In this page, we shall keep updating the Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19) impacts on the Himachal and Kullu Manali Tourism.
March 7: Tourists asked to submit travel history
February 2 & 3: Two more cases detected
January 30: First Covid-19 found in India
December X: Early Coronavirus Cases detected in China
Update on April 01, 2020
Hoteliers demand govt help as Himachal’s tourism set to demolish
The whole year’s tourism of Himachal is set to demolish due to Covid-19, with thousands losing their jobs, peak summer tourism season from April to June sacrificed to deadly disease and even three month EMI moratorium incapable of saving many hoteliers from bankruptcy in next few months.
Tourism is the largest employer in Himachal. The whole tourism industry of the state largely depends on three months – April, May and June – when lakhs of tourists make beeline to hill stations to get respite from the scorching heat. Rest of the nine months are considered lean season when very few tourists visit Himachal. Early April is the time when hoteliers used to start maintenance and repair works of the hotels to welcome tourist crowd. The beginning of April has brought tension among hoteliers who have no reason to decorate their hotels for the first time in decades as tourist movement across the world has come to a complete standstill.
The limited and seasonal tourism season of Himachal almost being crashed, thousands of hoteliers, travel agents, taxi operators and tourism activities operators have lost all hopes till next summer season in 2021. Thousands of people who have got job in hotels, travel agencies and other places are also worried for their future.
The three month moratorium on loans offered by banks is inadequate to heal the wounds of tourism industry of Himachal. Hundreds of hotels in Himachal have been recently built. Large numbers of hotels in state are still under construction. Over 50 per cent of the hotels owe thousands of crore to the banks. Large numbers of travel agencies, taxi operators and others also under the burden of huge loans. The hoteliers, who have nothing to do these days, are busy writing letters and emails to union and state government to seek help.
Manali Hoteliers’ Association (MHA), the largest association of the state, has written to the chief minister Jai Ram Thakur to help hoteliers in overcoming this situation. “We thank government of India and Himachal to take timely strict action to contain spread of Covid-19 by imposing nationwide lockdown. But we want to share that tourism is the main contributor to economy of the state. This industry, especially hospitality sector, is badly impacted by the Covid-19. Hotel industry is facing slowdown since last year. Now this virus has deteriorated the situation,” MHA president Anup Thakur said.
The association has requested government to help contribute to the salary of the staff by adding 50 per cent share from schemes like MGNREGA till hotels are closed. They also requested to charge electricity bill on domestic rates, not on commercial basis.
“Water charge, house tax, garbage charges, sewage charges and pollution charges should be exempted until hotels open. To attract tourists after this problem is over, we should be allowed tax holidays for at least six months. Advance tax deduction, income tax upto Rs 10 lakh should be waived off, renewal fees for bar license, pollution etc should be deferred for one year and new working capital loans should be available without collateral from banks at 0 per cent interest for hospitality sector and minimum credit limit should be Rs 15 lakh,” Thakur said, after having group discussion with the hoteliers over whatsapp.
All the advance bookings in hotels have cancelled till May. The hoteliers are hoping for good tourist inflow after May but the possibility is very bleak. Almost all the foreigners have cancelled their booking for the year and given the current global crisis, others are likely to cancel in next few weeks. The travel agencies have been shut and hoteliers have asked the staff to go back home after government gives relaxation in curfew. Still, most of the staff is in the hotels.