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‘Quarantine Tourism’ and Opening Hotels in Himachal Bad Idea: Hotel Associations

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Himachal Pradesh Opening hotels and quarantine tourism

Shimla– The Shimla Hotel & Restaurant Association on June 2, 2020, held a video conference with the Secretary and Director of the State Tourism Department, DTDOs, and Presidents of all associations concerning the hospitality industry of Himachal Pradesh.

The conference was held following the State Government’s announcement regarding opening of hotels for people visiting the State for non-tourism purposes from June 8.

The Association termed Chief Minister Jairam Thakur’s plan of “quarantine tourism” in Himachal Pradesh as a bad idea that would put the safety of the people at a risk. It’s pertinent to mention that a couple of weeks ago, the Chief Minister had suggested that to boost the industry, hotels can be opened for people, within and from outside the State, who are quarantined. This idea of the CM had drawn flak from not only the oppositions but also from the people.

“As far as quarantine tourism is concerned, we from the Industry do not feel it would be a good step for tourism in Himachal Pradesh. This could be unsafe for the employees, our properties and most important our citizens in towns and villages,”

said Sanjay Sood, President of Shimla Hotel and Restaurant Association. 

This year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, the hotel industry-supported Chief Minister’s decision to close borders of Himachal to tourists, which we felt was the right decision as we all were concerned for our employees and citizens of our state, Sood said.

Since cases are on the rise in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi, Punjab etc. Himachal should not consider opening hotels, at least, till the end of August or September unless a vaccine for the treatment of COVID-19 is available, Sanjay added.  

Now, that most parts of the State are safe and the tourist season – April, May and June- seems to have been lost due to the pandemic, the State should not open its borders for tourism as the cases are going to increase manifold in June and July, he said.

“We should not consider opening tourism in Himachal Pradesh till we have normalcy in domestic and international air traffic and all inter-state borders are opened. We suggest we should try to boost tourism in the State in August or September and start marketing the beautiful state for wellness tourism, adventure tourism, environmental tourism, cultural tourism, health tourism, religious tourism, culinary tourism,”

Sanjay said.

Also Read: Impossible to Pay Salaries & Wages to Staff With Zero Cash Flow, Says Hotel Association, Seeks Relief from CM Jairam Thakur

He said that meanwhile, the hotels would get a time of two to three months to train their staff to deal with guests and at the same time keep themselves safe in these challenging times of a pandemic.  Sanjay suggested that the State Government would need to focus on projecting Himachal as a safe destination and include members of all hotel associations of the State to do so.

The Association gave following suggestions to the State Govt

  1. Advertisements on Netflix and other popular TV channels which are currently popular.
  2. Advertise in theaters like PVR, SRS etc once they open.
  3. Advertise in newspapers and popular magazines concerning domestic and international travels.
  4. The most important step for the State Government should be to take along three to five members of all hotel associations of the State and hold roadshows, exhibitions, dinners with popular travel houses in all metros and cities of India to showcase Himachal as a haven for visitors.
  5. State Government would have to bear all costs including travel and stay of members of the association’s members.
  6. There are bodies like a travel trade fair, both domestic and international, where the State Government needs to coordinate and organise roadshows exhibitions etc.
  7. All fees for exhibitions that take place in various destinations should be waived off for hotels and the Government would have to take care of the expenses.

Earlier, on May 23, a delegation of Himachal’s hotel and tourism industry headed by Vikramaditya Singh, MLA, Shimla (Rural), had met the Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, seeking relief for the dying industry in the State due to the lockdown.

Reliefs Sought from the State Government by the Hospitality Industry

The delegation sought-following relief measures for “survival and revival” of tourism in Himachal  :

  1. Financial package is given to all hotels to cover business losses incurred during lockdown period by way of interest-free loans from State co-operative Bank and other state-owned banks, waiver of interest on existing term loans / CC limits availed from various banks and extension of existing term loans and CC limit with no requirements of fresh/additional collaterals.
  2. No electricity and water charges should be taken from hotels which are presently lying closed since lockdown.
  3. All fixed taxes, cess, license fees, govt. rentals should be waived for lockdown period from April 2020 that are being charged by the government of HP.
  4. The government should pay minimum wages to all Hotel employees during the lockdown . There are about 50,000 employees in tourism units of private & govt. Sector. The total amount will be less than 50 crores per month which should be paid by way of direct transfers to all employees of tourism units.
  5. GST should be reduced to 9% for 2 years after the opening of lockdown to encourage the revival of tourism in Himachal. Hotels should be allowed to charge 9% as ‘ COVID – 19 surcharge’ to the bills of visiting customers in room and food charges to make up for the losses in sales during the lockdown.
  6. Completion of Tourism linked infrastructure should be expedited like helipads, National and State highways, link roads etc.

Misc News/Press Release

Himachal: 80% Voter Turnout in 2nd Phase of Panchayat Polls

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Second phase of Panchayat elections in himachal pradesh

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Election Commission informed that the elections for 1208 Gram Panchayats were held today in the second phase in which around 80 percent polling was registered.

Overall, 75 COVID-19 patients and persons in isolation cast their votes as per the standard operating procedures.

The highest polling has been registered in Nandpur Gram Panchayat of Nalagarh developmental block of Solan district where the voter turnout was reported to be 96 percent.

The poll was held peacefully and there was no report of any untoward incident in the state. The counting of votes for Pradhan, Up-Pradhan and members was under the process and the results were awaited till late evening. The counting of votes for Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti will be held on 22 January 2021 at block headquarters.

Election-related process and results have been uploaded for the general public on sechimachal.nic.in.

The election for third and final phase for 1137 Panchayats would be held on 21 January 2021.

The first phase of elections to Panchayati Raj Institutions in Himachal Pradesh was held in 1228 Gram Panchayats on January 17, 2021. The overall polling percentage in the first phase was reported to 77.50%.

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Bird Flu Confirmed in Dead Poultry Dumped Near Himachal Borders, Ban on Poultry Products Extended   

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Himachal Pradesh Extends Ban on poultry

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Government has temporarily extended the ban on entry of poultry and poultry products into the State from neighbouring states for one more week. A notification to this regard was issued on January 18, 2021.

 The Government said that during the past few days, there had been incidences of dumping of dead poultry in the border areas of the State. Samples were collected from these dead birds, and disposed of the remaining birds as per protocol, it said. NIHSAD Lab, Bhopal, has confirmed Avian Influenza-H5N8 in the dumped birds.

Hundreds of dead poultry birds were found dumped along the Parwanoo-Solan stretch on the National Highway. The police was yet to identify culprits responsible.

However, the State Government said that the Flu has not been detected in the local poultry.

The State Government said that a “Bird Flu” outbreak was notified on January 6, 2021, in Pong Dam wetland of district Kangra. The count for migratory bird death due to the Flu had mounted to 4936 till January 18, 2021. On January 17, only 21 migratory birds died in the Pong Dam wetland area.

The State Government said a sharp decline was reported in death of migratory birds due to avian influenza outbreak in the Pong dam lake wildlife sanctuary.

Ten Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) of Wildlife Wing would continue to work in the wetland for collection and safe disposal of dead birds as per protocol till no mortality is recorded. 

Till January 18, 2021 outbreaks of Avian Influenza have been confirmed in 5 States for poultry birds and in 9 States for crows, migratory and wild bird.

Culling of poultry birds had to be taken in all the affected epicentres including CPDO, Mumbai. Culling operation of poultry in Haryana was also underway. The outbreak has is causing losses worth crores to poultry farmers. 

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447 Cases of Adverse Effect Including 3 in Himachal Reported Post COVID-19 Vaccination

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COVID-19-vaccination-adverse effect in himachal pradesh

Shimla– Amid skepticism over the COVID-19 vaccination, India has reported over 400 cases of adverse effect post-vaccination, informed the Ministry of Health. To be more specific, a total of 447 Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFIs) were reported on 16th Jan & 17th Jan’21.

Out of these, three required hospitalization. Of these, one was discharged from Northern Railway Hospital Delhi within 24 hours; one was discharged from AIIMS Delhi, and one is under observation in AIIMS Rishikesh and is being monitored.

Most of the AEFIs reported so far are minor like Fever, Headache, Nausea etc.

In Himachal Pradesh, about three cases of AEFIs were reported on day 1 of vaccination drive. These were reported from Dr Rajendra Prasad Government Medical College Tanda, Kangra, Civil Hospital Paonta Sahib, and Maharishi Markandeshwar University Medical College, Solan.

In these cases, symptoms reported included dizziness, anxiety, nausea and shivering and persons recovered after management as per protocol, it was informed.

In Himachal, 2,499 health care workers were to be administered dose through 27 identified sites in the State on January 16. However, only 1535 healthcare workers could be vaccinated on the first day. It was 61 percent of this set target. The second round would be held today.  

Two types of COVID-19 vaccines have been supplied for the vaccination drive. These include Covishield vaccine (made by Serum Institute of India Ltd) that has been supplied to all States/UTs.

The second is Covaxin vaccine (made by Bharat Biotech International Ltd) that has been supplied to 12 States.

An Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI) is any unexpected medical occurrence which follows immunization. It may not be related to the vaccine or vaccination process. The Ministry had laid down protocols for reporting, immediate case management at vaccination session site, transportation and hospitalization and further care of such cases. Protocols are also in place for systematic investigation and causality assessment of serious AEFIs, the Ministry said.

India has vaccinated the highest number of persons on Day1 under its COVID19 vaccination program, the world’s largest such exercise.

Total of 2,24,301 beneficiaries have been vaccinated till today as per the provisional report.

The second day of the massive countrywide COVID-19 vaccination program was also conducted successfully. A total of 553 sessions were held in six States. As many as 17,072 beneficiaries were vaccinated on Day2, as per the provisional reports.

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