Tourism showdown in Manali, Taxi operators go on strike

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Himachal Pradesh
Manali (HP), Jan 23: The tourism industry in Himachal Pradesh has been brought to a grinding halt as Taxi operators go on a 3-day strike, demanding a roll-back in hike in taxes.

As a result, hotel occupancy has also slid down across the state. Taxi associations and hospitality units rue that cancellations and postponing of tour plans to Himachal are continuing and are expected to continue in the next few days too.

Manali Hoteliers' Association president Anup Thakur said,"Our hoteliers are already facing a slowdown in tourism. now this strike has further paralyzed tourism in Manali.

Moreover, tourists staying in Manali since three days could not see snow for which they have spent thousands of rupees, only because of unavailability of mode of transport. "Current occupancy in hotels here is somewhere between 15 and 20%."

In fact, tourist occupancy has decreased in Shimla and Dalhousie too.

Shimla has reported a hotel occupancy of 30%. Hoteliers also complain of early check-outs. They believe that although the strike has come to an end on Wednesday evening, the impact of the strike would continue for the next few weeks.

Tour operators from neighboUring state like Punjab and Haryana have also withdrawn their services, fearing loss of property. They have reportedly diverted their bookings to other hill stations.

President of the Him-Aanchal Taxi Operators Union-Puran Chand-said that the government has assured that taxes would not be increased, so they will be working normally from Thursday. "However, if tax is increased again, strike will continue for an indefinite time period," he warned.

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