“Allow 72 Hours Permission to Tourist” – Mohinder

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Photo used for indicative purpose only. Source: Internet

Shimla, Aug

There seems to be no respite for the hoteliers and people related to the Tourism Industry as ever since the complete lockdown since 21 March, all tourism units are completely closed putting everything to stand still.

Even though the government permitted to open the hotel in unlock 3 but the rules under which tourists are allowed to come to Himachal are stringent. The tourists are not showing interest in coming to Himachal due to these rules. According to the SOP issued by the Tourism Department, it is mandatory for tourists to book hotels for five days and brings COVID negative report which is not more than 72 hours old. In Himachal normally tourists stay at one tourist destination for one to two days.

“In today’s situation, all industries, trade, private and government offices have opened and it is impossible for any tourist to spare five days for the holiday. On the other hand, the fees for conducting a COVID test from ICMR are Rs 2500 which is very high. If four members of the family have to undergo this test, then they have to spend Rs 10,000 and moreover any tourist hesitates to get their family tested for COVID because of fear of Virus .If we talk of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Kerala, Goa, Gujarat, and other states, in these states if a traveler wants to go to these states for 72 hours, then neither E- pass nor any COVID Negative Report is required”, says Mohinder Seth, President Tourism Industry Stake Holders Association.

Many tourists who tried to come by getting COVID Negative report failed to get registration and hence they do not prefer Himachal as they holiday destination.

The association has urged the government to take appropriate steps at the earliest to save the tourism industry by allowing tourists to come for 72 hours like other states so that they can get some relief. They also suggested that the government should make provision for making entry by the tourists on arrival at the state borders.

“We also suggest that only those tourists who have confirmed bookings in hotels duly registered by the tourism department should be allowed to come to Himachal so that they can be tracked. All our hotels have made provision to take all precautions according to SOP”, says Seth.

The tourism units are also facing problems regarding loan restructuring and moratorium period being a seasonal industry, loans taken from banks can be regulated only during the season. But unfortunately in the current situation due to lockdown just before the season, the installment of most of the tourist units went into default thereby excluding them from getting any other types of loans from the banks.

RBI has abolished Moratorium from the month of September first and they have made provision that restructures can only be done for those loans which were regular till March but due to seasonal business in Himachal many entrepreneurs are unable to fulfill this condition. The association requested the government to take up the matter with RBI and Finance Minister Government of India announce a policy to restructure all loans so that the tourism industry can get some relief.

According to norms, laid under the notification no one got benefit from the State government’s scheme to provide assistance to tourism units by way of soft working capital loan as no bank are willing to give loans under the scheme.

“The scheme provides that the loan will be available on giving collateral security but the hotels that have already taken loans cannot provide any collateral security because their units are already mortgaged with the one bank or the other” shares Seth.

“The Government should also ask the Finance ministry to extend the moratorium for the tourism industry up to 31st March 2021. We request the government that loans up to 15 lakhs be provided collateral-free, loans should be given only on the basis of registered rooms of hotels registered in the tourism industry, loans should also be made available to SMA1 and SMA 1 keeping in view the seasonal industry and lockdown just before the season and loans up to 15 lakhs to Himachal Cooperative Banks to give financial relief to the tourism units”, he adds further.

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