Relief for tourism sector likely in Himachal

Decision in this regard likely to be taken at Cabinet meeting tomorrow

Relief for tourism sector likely in Himachal

A ropeway and ski centre in Manali wears a deserted look. File photo

Pratibha Chauhan

Tribune News Service

Shimla, June 23

With clouds of uncertainty and gloom looming over the tourism industry, the government could come out with a relief package, including disbursal of soft loans, for hoteliers and other stakeholders.

A decision in this regard is likely to be taken by the Cabinet at its meeting scheduled for June 25. Despite the state giving the go ahead for non-commercial opening of hotels for guests from within the state, none of the hoteliers were keen to start operations in view of Covid.

Various departments concerned, including law, finance and tourism, are jointly trying to formulate a relief package for hoteliers and other stakeholders associated with the hospitality sector. “The endeavour is to cover up for the bare minimum loss that the tourism industry has suffered for the summer season, which attracts the highest number of tourists,” said an official.

The Tourism Department will hold a meeting with all stakeholders, including hoteliers and organisers of adventure sports and other activities, on June 26. The new SOPs will be framed in consultation with these people who are directly associated with the hospitality sector.

The hoteliers, on their own, are keen to prepare and train their staff for post-Covid operations. An awareness and training programme is scheduled to be held for 100 hotel and restaurant owners here in the state capital on June 24.

The government is worried as the tourism sector contributes 7.3 per cent to the state GDP and in terms of money, this works out to be about Rs 8,100 crore. Every year, this contribution has been on the rise and so has the influx of tourists, both domestic and international.

There has been huge loss of livelihood due to coronavirus outbreak, not just in the urban areas but also in rural areas. So far, the only relief given to the hotels has been a six-month waiver on electricity charges. “Unless and until the government rolls out more concessions and incentives for the tourism sector, it will be impossible for us to resume operations,” said Sanjay Sood, president of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Shimla.

Hoteliers in Kullu, Manali, Dharamsala, Kasauli, Dalhousie and other destinations have clearly said that with the ban on entry of tourists from outside the state, it will just not be economically viable for them to resume operations. “The visitors from the state constitute barely 10 per cent of our guests so we cannot start with full staff and services for such a small percentage,” a hotelier from Manali said.

However, hoteliers are skeptical of the tourism sector looking up for the next two years. Many of them are exploring options to diversify into other sectors, including real estate.

Meeting stakeholders

  • The Tourism Department will hold a meeting with all stakeholders, including hoteliers and organisers of adventure sports and other activities, on June 26
  • New SOPs will be framed in consultation with these people who are directly associated with the hospitality sector
  • The hoteliers are keen to prepare and train their staff for post-Covid operations
  • An awareness and training programme is scheduled to be held for 100 hotel and restaurant owners in Shimla on June 24

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