Hotel Industry stares at a bleak future, seeks relief from State Government

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The famous tibetan market all wrapped up

Dateline Mussoorie: “Due to  COVID19 crisis the Hotel Industry does not see much hope in revival or even survival in the immediate and distant future,” says President of the Uttarakhand Hotel Association, Sandeep Sahni, adding,  “without the Government having to handhold the industry for a period of 6-12 months with various relief measures, revival is quite difficult during this Pandemic.”

Words of concern by people associated with hotel business are making headlines world over. They are all looking for some respite from their respective governments, in the hope that they can stay afloat through the pandemic.

With close to 3500 registered hotels and guest houses in Uttarakhand. The tourism industry contributes 30% to the hill-state’s GDP while generating direct employment for about 1.2- 1.5 lakhs. Virtually 1/4th of the hill-state depends on tourists, a direct hit to this would spell disaster in the form of establishments closing and unemployment figures sky rocketing,” Sandeep Sahni reiterates.

The Uttarakhand Hotel Association is seeking relief measures, hoping that the State Government will come to their rescue, before its too late:

  1. Stimulus by way of Zero/ Interest Free Loans to cover the existing borrowing liabilities of the establishment: The government  needs to provide Zero Interest stimulus with moratorium of 12 months for tenure of 3-5 years to cover existing borrowing liabilities for the establishments. The Government can even look at providing a subsidy by making amends in the current Tourism/ Industrial Policy for Uttarakhand.
  2. Working Capital to cover salary expenses for the establishments: If Hotels survive so will the employees and their employers.
  3. Extension of validity of all State/Municipal Licenses and NOC for Establishments and waiver of charges for a period of 12 months, w.e.f. 1st April 2020 to 31st March 2021, considering that the current Financial Year will be a zero year for business, taking in account the very seasonal nature of business in the hill state.                                      As stated below:
  • Increase validity of FSSAI licence – 12 months
  • Increase Validity of Excise and Bar license for 12 months, without any additional fee for the current Financial Year. In case already renewed and paid the amount to be adjusted in the subsequent year.
  • Increase Validity of existing Hotel Licence by 1 year without any additional fee.
  • Increase in Scheme to register for Consent to Operate by UEPPCB by 6 months, with extension of mandatory requirement for STP and Consent by 12 month. For establishments with Valid Consent To Operate by UEPPCB in the previous Financial Year 2019-20, the validity of the existing consent may be automatically extended by 12 months without any additional charges.
  • House Tax and Sewage tax may not be charged for 6 months – April 2020 to September 2020. Thereafter the deferment of charges for the next 6 months may be allowed.
  • No Minimum charges for water tax and Electricity, the same to be taxed on actual consumption basis.
  1. Relaxed guidelines/ protocols for establishment with ease of opening & running once the govt allows to open. The Govt should not set any pre-condition which cannot be met by the hotelier when he opens his establishment. Protocols and punitive measures for quarantine should be eased and not harsh and detrimental to the industry at large.

5. It is important to note that without any tourism, those associated with it like, transporters, coolies, shop keepers, boatmen, etc are struggling for their livelihood .

6.  FHRAI has said 70 % of the industry will collapse in the next few weeks, we are again pleading to the governments to please help this industry from dying.

On the 13th of May, 2020, in a cabinet meeting chaired by the Chief Minister, tourism activities and hotel restaurant operators were granted concessions in ‘fix demand charge of electricity,‘ but with an uncertain future staring back at them, hoteliers seeks more relief.