Sunday Dec 10, 2017
ISLAMABAD: With Murree set to receive the first snowfall of the current winter season on Monday, local hoteliers foresee a large influx of tourists next week.
The Pakistan Meteorological Department has forecast that snow will fall at the scenic hill station on Monday or Tuesday.
Muhammad Luqman, the owner of a hotel on the Mall, said there was a likelihood of tourists, mostly residents of Islamabad, Rawalpindi and adjoining areas, thronging Murree, which is an hour’s drive, next week to enjoy snowfall, the current season's first. He said hotels had reported a surge in bookings, especially for the weekend.
Another hotelier, Zaman Ahmad, also reported higher bookings in hotels located on Pindi Point, Kashmir Point, the Mall and Ayubia. He said the hill station attracted crowds of visitors whenever there's snowfall. The hotel owner said most of the visitors belonged to Islamabad, Rawalpindi and other plain areas.
He said Murree’s adjoining areas like Galiyat, Bhurban, Ayubia and Nathiagali were also expected to see a large influx of visitors next week due to the snowfall.
In light of the expected influx of tourists, the traffic police claim they've made special arrangements to ensure smooth flow of traffic in the region, especially on the Mall, while the administration insists it has prepared its machines to clear snow from the roads to facilitate motorists.
Thousands of tourists, mostly domestic, head towards Murree and upwards during the winter season. Since the past couple of years, Islamabad Police have struggled to maintain the flow of traffic on the highway leading to Murree.
The high influx of tourists often leads to closure of entry to the Murree Expressway from Islamabad and also forces tourists to remain on the road in traffic gridlocks for hours.
However, many tourists fear overcharging by hotels, especially those located on the Mall, GPO Chowk and Kuldanna Road after the snowfall and demand the district administration's intervention for control of rent.
Meanwhile, according to the Met Office, rainfall is expected from tonight in various areas of the country.
Northeastern parts of Balochistan, Upper Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Fata, Islamabad, Punjab, Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir are expected to experience light to moderate rain until Wednesday.
Originally published in The News