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Read Eight Reliefs That Himachal’s Devastated Tourism Industry Seeks from HP Govt  

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hp govt reliefs to hotel industry

Shimla-Restrictions on entry of tourist to Himachal Pradesh might have been lifted by the state government, but the peak season is almost over with the arrival of the monsoon. This year, the monsoon has arrived sooner than it used to reach the state. Approximately Rs 17,00 crore tourism industry of Himachal stands devastated due to Covid-related restrictions on the movement of people.

The industry gets 70% of its business during the peak tourist season, which is May and June months. The season lasts a little longer in case of delayed arrival of monsoon. Unfortunately, the industry has lost two peak seasons in a row.

This has resulted in mass unemployment in all tourism associated sectors and huge losses to businesses, especially hotel businesses. The state government doesn’t seem to be much interested in assessing the exact scale of the loss and unemployment caused during the 2020-21 period. At least, this is what the hoteliers and various stakeholders in the tourism sector of Himachal suggest. The hoteliers say they haven’t received any significant relief from the government.

The hoteliers, who had been approaching the government time and again in hope of some relief, are disappointed with the state government. Hoteliers are faulting on paying EMIs of their bank loans. Last year, most availed moratorium and restructured their loan EMIs. But this year, they are receiving notices from Banks warning them that their loans would be declared NPAs by the end of this year if they failed to repay the loans. Hoteliers have even started putting hotels on sale after warning of the third wave of the pandemic. They had not imagined that the pandemic would continue for this long, but now they are certain that it could take several years before things get back to normal.  

Reeling under fear of survival, the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Northern India (HRANI) approached Chief Minister Jairam Thakur a couple of days ago with their grievances.

Earlier, in May, the Tourism Industry Stake Holders Association had written a letter to Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur seeking financial aid from the state government to save the industry amid COVID-19 resurgence. The Association had also highlighted the shared plight of hotels and restaurants falling in debt and failing to provide for the expenses.

Also Read: Himachal’s Distressed Tourism Industry Stakeholders Write to CM Jairam Thakur, Seeks Financial Package

“The impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry has been extremely disruptive. Among all the core sectors of the economy, hospitality was the first one to fall and is going to be the last to recover, hence becoming the biggest causality of the pandemic,” the  HRANI said.

“The industry had lost all its business after the lockdown came into effect and the zero-business scenario remained for 7 -10 months during last year,” the Association told the Chief Minister.

The Association also pointed out that to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and reduce financial burden, the Government of Gujarat has granted a complete waiver of Property tax for  the 2021 – 22 financial year and also waived off fixed charges levied on electricity bills for hotels, restaurant, resorts and water Parks. The consumers only have to pay power bills for the actual usage.

“Today, hospitality has become the most unviable and unsustainable business in the country and is heading towards the closure of thousands of establishments in many parts of the country and massive job losses,” the HRANI said.

It said that given the circumstances, hoteliers are expecting strong support from the HP government. It sought following relief for the survival and revival of hospitality units:

  1. Refund / Adjustment Excise Fees:  Due to lock down measures and non-operations of bars from March 22, 2020, to September 4, 2020, the excise fee paid by licensee Bars, Hotels and Restaurants for the non-operations period should be either refunded or adjusted. Due to curfew/lockdown measures, none of the excise Licenses (Hotels and Restaurant) in the state has been permitted to operate since the beginning of this financial year till date which has brought the hospitality sector to its knees. Under such circumstances, the hospitality sector can’t stay afloat. The excise fee should be waived off for the next six months. In case of advance payment of the fees, it should either be refunded or adjusted.
  2. Power:  The contracted capacity of power Consumption was not used by the hotels. But the Fixed Charges at the applicable rate have been billed to them based on the contracted Billing Demand which included the non-operations period. Therefore, keeping in view the closure of hospitality establishments, hoteliers requested a complete waiver of fixed charges.
  3. Property Tax / House Tax: Relief from property tax/house tax by extending a waiver for hotels and hospitality establishments for a suitable period during the current financial year.
  4. Increase of limit of 25 guests for social functions for Spacious Premises: The hospitality establishments largely depend upon banqueting as it majorly contributes to meet operational expenses. It is a key source of revenue and is also taken into account while calculating the operating cost of hospitality units. Therefore, following the protocol of social distancing, the limit of 25 guests for social functions should be increased in accordance with the capacity of the hall and open space to cater to guest. The Banquets, Premises and halls having larger space should be allowed to host social functions and gatherings with 50% capacity without any further local permission, provided the protocol of social distancing is maintained.
  5. A waiver on water bills and sewerage charges: The water bill and sewerage charges by Jal Board should be waived off for the next six months due to lockdown and non-operations of hospitality units. Since last year there is hardly any occupancy/guests due to travel restrictions & and uarantine guidelines.
  6. Automatic extensions/onetime special renewals: Automatic extension /onetime special renewal of Certificates for one year from all departments such as FIRE NOC, Municipal License Renewals Certificate of Weight and Measurement from Legal Metrology Department; Certificate for lift Operations; Shops & Establishment Certificate &Consent to Operate by Pollution Control Committee.  Given restrictions & the challenges of this worst-hit industry, the hoteliers requested to permit onetime special renewal or automatic extension of all approvals & licenses to be valid till March 31, 2022.
  7. Relief from penal provisions for delays in dues: No penalty or interest to be levied on payment of any dues owed to the State government or local Government or other State bodies for a suitable period.
  8. Relief from regulatory compliances:  Relief from regulatory compliances under State Laws or Central Laws being implemented by the States including Byelaws. Municipal Byelaws, Rules and Regulations by extending the validity of various licenses and approvals without levy of any fees till March 31, 2022.

About Hotel and Restaurant Association of Northern India (HRANI)

Hotel and Restaurant Association of Northern India (HRANI) – a Northern outfit of the Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India is the apex body and voice of the Hospitality industry of Northern India, representing Hotels, Restaurants and Allied sector of the ten North Indian States & Union Territories. The Association was formed in these northern states and Union Territories are Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

 

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Shimla, Manali Receive Season’s First Spell of Snow, Cheers Tourism Industry

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snowfall in shimla 2021

Shimla-First spell of snow in Shimla’s tourist destinations, Narkanda and Kufri, has cheered the tourism industry as it would increase the footfall of tourists. Similarly, higher parts of Manali also reported a light spell of snow on Sunday evening. Lahaul-Spiti, however, reportedly witnessed heavy snowfall and Atal Tunnel, Rohtang, was closed for traffic. Parts of the Kinnaur district also recorded a spell of snow.

Chopal in Shimla had received 2-3 inches of snow, while Dodra Kwar recorded one foot of snow, according to the Met Department.

In Kullu, Jalori Pass had received 3 inches of snow, Rohtang top 2.5 feet, and Atal Tunnel 1.5 feet.

In Lahaul-Spiti, Koksar/Sissu had recorded 18 inches of snow, Keylong 8 inches, Darcha 12 inches, Udaipur 4 inches, Tindi 2 inches, Kaza 1 inch, and Lossar 2 inches of snow.

In Kinnaur, Chitkul had recorded 15.4 cms of snow, Kalpa 5 cms, and Sangla 7.62 cms. Nichar also received a light spell.

This change in weather has triggered a cold wave across the state. Further, the Himachal Pradesh Meteorological Department had issued a yellow alert for December 5, 2021. The Met has predicted rain and snow on December 6 too. While the weather is predicted to be dry on December 8, the state could witness more rain and snow on December 7 and December 9, according to the Met Department.

Most roads, except in Lahaul-Spiti, remain open to traffic movement, the district administrations of Shimla and Kullu confirmed. Further, the administrations said preparations are being made to keep the roads clear in case of heavy snowfall.

This tourist season is crucial for the hospitality industry which was worst hit by the pandemic induced restrictions. However, the entry of Omicron – the new variant of Covid-19 that has been termed as a variant of concern by the WHO-haunts the season. India had reported as many as 21 cases of Omicron till Sunday. If the HP Government decides to impose restrictions on the entry of the domestic tourist in view of the spread of the new variant, the hospitality industry could again face losses.  

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Himachal Achieves 100% Vaccination Target, OPD at AIIMS, Bilaspur, Inaugurated   

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vaccination second dose in himachal pradesh

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh has achieved the 100 percent target of the second dose of Covid vaccination, the State government informed on Sunday.  Himachal Pradesh has become the first State of the country in achieving the target of cent per cent vaccination of targeted eligible age group, it informed.  

According to the HP Government, all eligible 53,86,393 adults have been administered the second dose of the vaccine.

District-Wise Vaccination Details

District

Number of People Vaccinated 

Bilaspur  318150
Chamba 352605
Hamirpur 361954
Kangra 1140439
Kinnaur 68460
Kullu 322643
Lahaul-Spiti 25494
Mandi 738818
Shimla 634019
Sirmaru 410187
Solan 584326
Una 429298

A complete vaccination was performed first in the inaccessible areas and tribal areas of the state and Kinnaur district became the first district in the entire country to administer the second dose of the vaccine to all eligible adults, the government informed.

On this occasion, Jagat Prakash Nadda, the Member of Parliament and National BJP President, also addressed a felicitation ceremony of Covid Vaccination Workers at Bilaspur on Sunday.

Nadda also dedicated the first OPD at AIIMS Kothipura in Bilaspur. The AIIMS Bilaspur would be made fully functional within the next six months, said Nadda.

 

jp nadda at aiims bilaspur

JP Nadda at AIIMS Bilaspur

He said that the foundation stone of this institution was laid about three years back and it would have been completed a year ago, but the pace was affected due to the corona pandemic. He said that Himachal Pradesh has got an Rs. 500 crore Satellite centre of PGI Chandigarh at Una.

He also congratulated the State Government, doctors, health care workers and all the frontline workers for achieving this unique feat. 

Union Minister of Health, Chemicals and Fertilizers Mansukh Mandaviya, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur and Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Youth Affairs and Sports Anurag Singh were also present on the occasion

 

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Himachal Records Fresh Spell of Snow, HP Met Issues Alert

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snowfall in himachal pradesh

Shimla-The weather in Himachal Pradesh has taken a turn with a prediction of rain and snowfall till December 5, 2021. At the time of writing this report, Kaza in Lahaul-Spiti was receiving a fresh spell of snow, cheering the tourists, as well as, the hoteliers. So far, the traffic movement was normal in the region.

This has caused a sharp drop in temperatures across the state.

The District Administration of Lahaul-Spiti has advised the locals and tourists to avoid wandering to high altitude areas unnecessarily.

The HP Meteorological Department, Shimla, has also issued a yellow alert for December 2 and December 5. While the plains can experience light to moderate rainfall at a few places,  the middle and higher hills could witness widespread rain and snow on December 2.   

For December 4, the HP Met had predicted light to moderate rain across the state. For December 5, however, the Met has issued an yellow alert with a prediction of rain and snow at several places.

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