Kullu, August 11
With the Covid-19 crisis throwing the tourism sector into chaos, there are no takers for hotels, homestays and guesthouses on lease in Kullu and Manali.
While hardly any fresh lease of tourism properties has taken place after the outbreak in March, others have terminated their contracts midway. This is despite the Himachal Government allowing the hotel industry to operate from the first week of July. There are about 1,200 hotels and 800 cottages, homestays and guesthouses in Manali alone. Almost half of these are given on lease by their owners.
Covid impact: Almost nil footfall
A few hotels and homestays that had resumed operations have been finding it difficult to meet expenses due to lack of tourists. Fearing Covid, some panchayats have barred entry of vacationers.
“The restricted movement to hill towns is frustrating holidaymakers and ruining holiday businesses and devastating the economies that depend on them,” says a contractor from Mumbai, who renewed his Manali homestay lease in April.
With almost zero tourist footfall, his losses have been mounting by the day. “In April, we hoped the virus would subside soon. But that doesn’t seem to be happening. We’re digging into whatever savings are left,” he adds.
Contractors who have leased out properties for three to five years are into a bigger mess. The lessees are now negotiating with owners to either return the advance or allow extension of lease period. The hoteliers have been demanding moratorium on house tax and bank loan interest.
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