Friday's flash floods have dealt a blow to tourism in this picturesque town. Till the cloudburst came, the season was in full swing, with a flood of bookings and thousands of tourists arriving and having a good time. Now there has been a spate of cancellations, while several tourists already here have cut short their stay and are leaving.
With additional flights being arranged to clear the rush, the Leh airport was full of tourists wanting to leave. “It was difficult to get a ticket,” said a foreigner, who was part of a group of six trekkers. Officials said more flights arrived on Sunday, but “being in panic” was “but natural” in this situation. “We are trying to help the tourists and it will take time to normalise the situation,” they said.
At least 100 German tourists caught in the floods were rescued, prompting appreciation from the German Foreign Minister. Most of the tourists are from Israel and European countries. Many tourists joined the rescue operations, but there is a sizable number facing difficulties in the absence of basic facilities. “On Sunday, 1,200 tourists left by air. Around 100 are trapped somewhere on the Leh-Manali road but they have been reached by the Army,” an official at the Disaster Management Control Room told The Hindu.
Not many hotels have been affected, but they are facing difficulties. “Power supply is the biggest hurdle,” a hotelier said.
Sources said it might take longer to restore normality, and this is likely to affect the tourist season ending in mid-September.