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Tourism crippled, no relief in sight

Tourism crippled, no relief in sight

It is perhaps for the first time in the last 50 years that the tourism sector has suffered the worst, with the state reeling under the impact of Covid-19.



Pratibha Chauhan

It is perhaps for the first time in the last 50 years that the tourism sector has suffered the worst, with the state reeling under the impact of Covid-19. The pandemic not only crippled the hotel industry but also rendered lakhs of people associated with the sector in the lurch.

What is even more worrisome is that there is no immediate relief in sight from the tourism gloom, as the world continues to grapple with the pandemic with uncertainty. Hoteliers say that tourism has come down to almost 10 per cent and that too on weekends, and the government is in no position to provide relief. “There is no doubt that the tourism sector is the worst hit and we wish to bail it out but our limited resources are a major constraint,” says Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, who also holds the tourism portfolio.

“The tourism industry has been ruined and unless we get substantial help from the government, we are bound to perish,” says Sanjay Sood, president of the Shimla Hoteliers Association. He says that there has been more than 40 per cent job loss in the hotel and hospitality sector and if the situation does not improve, the hoteliers will have to terminate the services of their staff permanently. The hotel industry demands soft loans, GST waiver and subsidised power and water.

Besides the direct job losses, guides, photographers, rental costume shops, dhaba owners, small traders along highways, and motor mechanics have also suffered business losses.

Tourism came to a complete halt in Himachal with the announcement of the lockdown on March 24, 2020. Though limited tourism activities were allowed from June 8, the situation is far from rosy. The unhindered entry of tourists mid-September onwards gave some respite, but it, too, turned out to be a brief relief. The tourism sector contributes 8 per cent to the economy and provides direct and indirect employment to a large number of people.

The fact that 1.72 crore tourists visited the state, including 3.56 lakh foreigners, last year is an indication of Himachal being a preferred holiday destination. There are 3,679 registered hotels and 2,189 homestays in the state, though their actual number is much higher.

The hotel industry has been demanding that various restrictions, including night curfew in some districts, should be done away with for tourism to pick up. They rue that many small units have closed down while many hotels are yet to start operations because their running cost is quite high while tourist arrival is miniscule.


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