Shimla: Thousands of tourists have thronged Shimla and other key tourist destinations of Himachal to ring in "2015" even as snowfall eluded the region.
While the Ridge and Mall Road area has turned into a human sea, tourist vehicles were making a beeline to "Queen of Hills", adding traffic jams and parking woes.
All the hotels and other tourist accommodations in the mid town were packed to the capacity and hoteliers doing brisk business.
State Tourism department has strengthened its "inspection mechanism" to ensure that tourists were not fleeced and overcharged, officials said, adding elaborate arrangements have been made to maintain law and order while security has been briefed up to avoid any untoward incident.
The state Tourism Development Corporation-run hotels and other posh hotels in and around Shimla have organised gala New Year nights while entertainment programmes have been arranged for common people at the Ridge.
Coolies and taxi operators were also doing good business.
Tourist inflow to Kullu-Manali was a bit affected due to disruptions in water and power supply and other services following a heavy snowfall on December 14 and 15.
Though the government issued an advisory asking tourists to avoid visiting these areas, but the rush has increased after Christmas and thousands of them were arriving in Kullu valley and Manali to welcome the New Year, they said.
Over the years, the winter tourism which lasts about three weeks from mid December to first week of January has picked up very fast and the rush during the peak days from Christmas to New Year was even more than summer tourist rush.
The Ice skating at Asia's biggest natural Ice skating rink was another attraction and the tourists made it a point to visit or to have glimpse of the rink, located just below the Ridge.