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A Record Number Of Tourists Throng Himachal After State Eases Covid Restrictions

A Record Number Of Tourists Throng Himachal After State Eases Covid Restrictions

Thousands of people are thronging tourist destinations in Himachal Pradesh after the state government relaxed Covid-19 norms. While a large number of people have already reached Shimla and Manali, nearly 10,000 people have applied for Covid-19 e-passes in the last week. However, only 3,000 out of the 10,000 applications were approved.

As many as 7,000 passes were rejected as the applicants did not mention the exact reason why they were visiting the state. In some cases, the documents attached were either fake or did not match with the location they started their journey from.

The Himachal Pradesh government had recently relaxed some norms to ease the tourist flow as the state’s tourism industry was severely hit by the lockdown.

Meanwhile, the state government has also issued an advisory to tourists, appealing to them to follow Covid-19 norms.

“There are no restrictions on tourists coming to Himachal, but they will have to register online to get a Covid e-pass. The travel industry contributes to 7 per cent of the state’s GDP and around 2 crore tourists visit the state every year. The tourism industry suffered huge loss during the pandemic. We have allowed tourists to visit the state, but they will have to follow Covid-19 norms,” Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said.

The traffic police at tourist places strictly follow social distancing and other Covid-19 norms. Those found without masks are being fined. Nearly 8,000 violators have been penalised and a fine amounting to Rs 52 lakh has been recovered from violators in the last one year.

“Those found violating Covid-19 norms will face strict action. We have put up nine barricades in Shimla city and 27 barricades in rural areas. As many as 51 patrolling parties have been deployed in Shimla alone. Seven FIRs have been registered against people who were found violating the social distancing norms. They have been fined Rs 27,000,” said Superintendent of Police Shimla Mohit Chawla.

Meanwhile, popular tourist places like Shimla and Manali are witnessing a tourist rush. Nearly 3,000 tourists have reached Kullu-Manali during the past three days.

Despite the tourist rush, the hotel occupancy remains between 30 per cent to 40 per cent which has left the hoteliers and restaurant owners worried.

“Tourists are now heading to Himachal Pradesh after the government relaxed the norms. The hotel occupancy is around 30 per cent to 40 per cent and we are expecting more guests during the season. We request the state government to do away with the Covid e-pass system as it is hindering people from coming to the state,” said Chaman Kapoor, a Manali-based hotelier.

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