MUMBAI: A week after heavy rains caused floods and landslides along the Western Ghats, sparking travel plan cancellations for the Independence Day weekend, the recent dry spell appears to have again encouraged Mumbaikars to head for the hills.
While most hill stations and roads leading to them were closed by the government following an unprecedented downpour, MTDC resorts at Malshej Ghat, Lonavala, Bhandardara, Tarkarli, Tadoba and Mahabaleshwar are again 90-100% full, followed by those at Ganpatiphule, Matheran and Panshet.
While many tourists postponed their bookings, a sizable chunk switched to destinations like Bhandardara, Chikhaldara or Tadoba as MTDC offered them rescheduling or alternate bookings at no extra costs. “Normally, few people visit Tadoba during the monsoon, but this time it is an exception as people have moved to beaches in a big way,” said state tourism director Satish Soni. “We do not see a great dip in the number of bookings as most tourists have only altered their itineraries,” said Soni.
Private transporters said weekend tourism is always be in demand during the monsoon as very few people opt for long tours. Atul Mohile, general secretary of Maharashtra Tour Organisers’ Association, which has 140 members across the state, said a miniscule number diverted travel plans to Rajasthan, Goa, Madhya Pradesh or even abroad, following heavy rains in the Konkan.
Himanshu Patil, western region head of Outbound Tour Operators Association of India, which has 600 members, said the floods had little impact as weekend tourism will always be in demand. Abhijit Khadilkar, national general secretary of Enterprising Travel Agents Association, with 750 members, too said tourism in Maharashtra was strong despite the floods.