Himachal Pradesh's hospitality industry is welcoming thousands of tourists, mainly from the north Indian plains, for the Christmas weekend.
Most hotels and guest houses in tourist destinations across the state are totally booked ahead of the three-day extended weekend that starts with Christmas this Friday.
'This time the tourist response has been overwhelming in the last few days of the year. Almost all our hotels have got tremendous bookings well in advance. Of course, the extended three-day weekend is an advantage to the tourism industry,' Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation general manager Yogesh Behl told IANS.
The corporation has 57 economy and high-end hotels with 1,070 rooms which have 2,320 bed capacity across the state. It is also running 60 restaurants and cafes.
According to tourism department estimates, over 50,000 tourists, mainly from Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi, are expected to reach Shimla and nearby tourist spots Friday.
'This time the response of the tourists is encouraging during Christmas due to a
three-day holiday bonanza. Even on any weekday, the response is good,' said D.P. Bhatia, general manager of the well-known Clarke's Hotel here.
Manali, another picturesque resort, is going to attract the most tourists in the state due to snow in its nearby hills.
'This town will definitely attract a large chunk of tourists in the state because of good spells of snow in nearby hills. At present, this is the only tourist spot where one can witness snow just half-an-hour's drive away,' said Tek Chand Thakur, president of the Manali Hoteliers Association.
He said almost all the hotels in the town have got 60 to 70 percent advance bookings.
The weather across the hill state will remain sunny in the next few days. 'There is no possibility of western disturbances approaching the region. So the weather will remain dry in the next few days,' said Manmohan Singh, director of the meteorological office in Shimla.
To cater to the rush, the Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) has started special luxury Volvo buses from Delhi and Chandigarh to Shimla, Manali and Dharamsala, a spokesperson said.
Himachal Pradesh, whose economy is highly dependent on tourism, last year attracted 9.37 million domestic and 367,000 foreign tourists.