Shimla, Oct. 18
Mohinder Seth, President of Tourism Industry Stake Holders Association, Himachal while expressing his concern over the less tourist footfall in state said, “The tourists from Bengal and Gujarat are the biggest contributors for Tourism Industry during Durga Pooja Holidays. But this year due to absence of trains from Howrah to Kalka it has a direct impact on occupancy of hotels and other tourism units. Occupancy of hotels during Durga Pooja season used to be 70 to 80% but this year the occupancy has dropped to 15 – 20%.”
During Durga Puja, most tourists come to Himachal from West Bengal and due to the rail connectivity up to Shimla, the tourists from west Bengal mostly start their journey of Himachal from Shimla. “The tourists coming from Bengal are very organized tourists. They make all the bookings of traveling, booking of hotel and all the arrangements well in advance. This is the reason the tourism industry after losing the summer season due to lockdown will suffer another major setback by losing Durga Puja season” Mohinder informed further.
They spoke to the management of Kali Dari Kali Bari about their position of bookings and learned that Kalibari management have decided not to open rooms for the tourists till March 2021, due to due no query for accommodation and moreover due to risk of COVID .
Similarly, the arrival of tourists from Gujarat during Navratri holidays around Depawali contributes a lot to the occupancy to hotels of Himachal. Many groups from Gujarat and Maharashtra come to Himachal during this season. The Gujarat Travel Agents Association told that permitted sitting capacity for the Tourist Coaches as per SOP is very less causing rise in the packages prices almost to its double. It is not feasible to bring groups to Himachal which will cause direct impact on the inflow of tourists.
Association urged the government to consider the demand of Gujarat travel agents and allow 100% sitting capacity on the patron of Uttrakhand and also announce rebate in road/ entry tax to boost domestic tourism in the interest of tourism industry. The travel agents of Gujarat and Maharashtra float their packages for Himachal in the month of October November and start publicity of packages also around this time.
They fee l that in case the timely steps are not taken Himachal may lose tourism from Gujarat and Maharashtra in coming summer season too as they normally starts coming from mid March and prefer to travel in groups which plays a major role in increasing the occupancy of hotels.
The timely steps will definitely benefit the Tourism stake holders of Himachal. The Tourism Industry of Himachal is already suffering losses the present occupancy in the hotels is very low. It has become difficult for the industry to meet the fixed expenditure.
Association has urged the government to provide financial aid by way of providing working capital limits through State cooperative banks without any conditions and also announce rebate in property tax, garbage fee may be charged on per room on domestic rate, waiver of licence fees and waiver of fixed demand charges by HPSEB up to march 2021 to save the industry from a closure. The Property tax and garbage fee also needs to be waived off for the period of lockdown. In case immediate help is not provided to the tourism industry it will completely collapse they added.