By OUR STAFF REPORTER
DEHRADUN, 17 Jul: In the context of the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, President Mukul Gupta along with members of the Uttarakhand Hotel Lease Owners’ Association met Tourism Minister Satpal Maharaj, today.
It was conveyed to him that all their Operations, Business and Activities had come to a complete halt. Due to the intensity and gravity of the situation, all the hoteliers and various other vendors and operators in the Tourism Industry are the worst effected community, having had to stop their operations in the entire Uttarakhand since March 2020 due to strict orders of the State and Central Governments.
It was pointed out that the economy of Uttarakhand is based on tourism and nearly 50% population is associated with the Tourism Business directly or indirectly. There are thousands of hotels, big and small, in the State under operation. Almost 50% of the hotels and resorts are being operated on the lease model, numbering more than 3000 hotels. The Association drew attention to the factors operating behind the hotel industry.
The lease operators provide the main source of employment to the local people and help them earn their livelihood. 2. They are the main source of business for allied services like local vendors of vegetables, eatables, laundry, local transport, etc. They are also the major source of revenue to the Government via Electricity, Water, Sewer Bills, etc. They are also major contributors of GST Revenue. They play a vital role in the Tourism Sector, promoting the destination and finally succeeding in bringing the much required business and revenue for the prosperity of Uttarakhand.
It was pointed out that the Tourism and Travel Industry is the worst affected and will take a long time to revive. Travel will totally change and will reappear with new protocols. Tourist destinations like Rishikesh, Mussoorie and the hills see 60 t0 70 percent of their business in April, May and June. The pandemic has destroyed the entire business. Even if relief in lockdown is provided, travelers will still restrict their movement citing safety and monetary issues. So, basically, the entire year has been wiped out.
It was stated that the major problems being faced by the lease operators are the pressure created by the Property Owners to pay rent; bills raised by the Jal Nigam for water and sewer charges; in case hotel operations are opened by the Government, then there is the extreme risk of employees getting infected; and the shortage of liquidity for the Lease Operators, making it impossible to cover day to day expenses.
Also, the funding and loaning patterns do not favour lease owners. As a result, they are looking to the government for assistance. They want waiver of the lease for at least 12 months, till the 2021 season begins, as also Electricity, Water and Sewage Department bills. They are also hoping for monetary help in the form of loans and working capital for lease owners, not just the property owners. They also want the government to take responsibility for treatment of infected employees.
GST on bookings are also being sought to be exempted till March 2021.
The delegation comprised President Mukul Kumar Gupta, Secretary Mukul Suri, Treasurer Gaurav Gupta, Hardev Singh, Robin Singh and others.
By OUR STAFF REPORTER