Tourists face overcharging in Himachal

SHIMLA / MANALI: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Nothing can describe the hospitality industry in Himachal Pradesh better than Newton’s law of motion.

As the heat in the plains of northern India pulls tourists to the hills, they feel the heat of being fleeced everywhere. Hotels, guesthouses and lodges have doubled their tariffs, reports Indian Express.

Private taxi drivers and guides openly fleece the tourists by quoting high rates in this peak summer season, pinching the pockets of thousands of holidaymakers.

Sample this: In the picturesque tourist resort of Manali, for glimpses of a snowy landscape spread over the majestic Rohtang Pass, you should be ready to shell out an extremely high fare to hire a cab.

So it is in tourist spots near Shimla, such as honeymooners’ paradise Kufri where each pony owner is virtually trying to poach you without paying any heed to your refusals. You will end up getting charged an exorbitant fare for a ride across the hilly terrain.

“We have been charged Rs 12,000 by a travel agent for arranging to and fro journey between Manali and Rohtang Pass. This is fleecing in the name of taking you close to snow cover,” Samuel Mukherjee, a tourist from Kolkata, said.

The actual fare of a luxury cab is Rs 6,000 while an ordinary one costs Rs 4,000.

His wife Sudeshna remarked: “We had no option but to listen to the taxi driver to avoid spoiling our vacation. There is no mechanism here to check abnormally high tariffs.”

With only 1,200 taxi or private vehicle permits — 800 petrol vehicles and the remaining diesel — issued online daily on a first-come-first-served basis to visit the Rohtang Pass, some 52 km from Manali, taxi operators are charging two to three times more than the actual fare, reports say.

Added Delhi-based banker Chinamaya Mehta: “I was looking for a luxury hotel in and around Shimla for four days. To my surprise, the room tariff of a luxury hotel in Shimla is around Rs 16,000, almost double the five-star hotels in Delhi and Mumbai.”

He asked the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Department to keep eye on hotel fares to check exorbitant pricing, especially when the tourism season is at its peak.

Ongoing protests in Jammu and Kashmir, which is scaring away tourists, and rising mercury in the plains have triggered a sudden surge in tourist footfalls in Himachal Pradesh.


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