It’s houseful in Queen of Hills

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Shimla: The tourism industry is buoyant as tourists are making a beeline to key tourist destinations in Himachal Pradesh to ring in the New Year and all hotels in the state capital are packed to capacity.

There is a surge in tourist arrivals with record footfall expected following a prediction of snowfall on New Year Eve and extreme cold and foggy conditions in the adjoining plains.

Shimla Hotel and Restaurant Association president Sanjay Sood said high-end tourist properties were already booked up to January 4.

He said occupancy was nearly 100 per cent in local hotels this weekend and tourists were likely to extend their stay in case of snowfall here or foggy conditions with low temperatures in the plains.

Weather in the state capital was better than in many other places with minimum temperature marginally higher and bright sunshine prompting tourists to enjoy outdoors.

The historic Ridge became the most happening place as people descended on it during the day to bask in the sun and assemble in the evening for entertainment.

The district administration made elaborate arrangements to cope with the tourist rush, regulate traffic and put in place a plan for parking of vehicles for New Year festivities.

The area from Kennedy House to the Indian Institute of Study had been opened for parking, said Deputy Commissioner Amit Kashyap.

Places had been identified for parking on the roadside and shuttle service would be provided to tourists parking their vehicles at the ISBT on the outskirts, he said.

Traffic would be regulated and vehicles not allowed to stop in front of eating joints while parking on one side would be allowed on the Kufri road, a major traffic bottleneck, he stated.

The police would be deployed in strength to maintain law and order and security men in mufti would be on their toes to keep a strict vigil on anti-social elements and drunkards creating nuisance, he added.

Tourism Industry Stakeholders Association president MK Seth said bookings for New Year were already between 70 per cent and 80 per cent.

He said the administration should regulate traffic, provide parking facility for tourists and keep roads open in case of snowfall.