Himachal Pradesh Congress MLA Vikramaditya Singh urged the state government to grant immediate relief package to the tourism sector which is required for its survival as peak season is already lost in COVID-19 pandemic.

In a meeting with Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur last evening, Singh said the tourism units were closed from the last 3 months owing to lockdown and now they were facing trouble in paying fixed costs like salaries, electricity, water bills and other taxes.

“Immediate relief is required for the survival of the tourism industry in HP which has already lost its peak season unlike other states like Goa, Rajasthan and Kerala where tourist season picks up pace in winters,” he added.

Vikramaditya Singh said if substantial relief is not given immediately then hotels will be forced to go in for closure and several avocations, directly or indirectly associated with them, will suffer irreparable loss leading to mass unemployment in the state.

He demanded that financial package should be given to all hotels to cover business losses incurred during the lockdown period by way of interest-free loans from state co-operative banks or other state-owned banks.

Further, waiver on 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 or additional collateral should be given to them.

“No electricity and water charges should be taken from hotels which are presently lying closed due to lockdown.

All fixed taxes, cess, license fees, government rentals are waived for lockdown period from April 2020 which are being charged by the state government,” he added.

Singh further stated that besides, the state government should pay minimum wages to all hotel employees during the lockdown.

There were about 50,000 employees in tourism units of private and government sector. The total expenditure will be less than Rs 50 crore per month which should be paid by way of direct transfer to all employees of tourism units.

He called for reducing GST to 9 per cent for 2 years after the opening of lockdown to encourage the revival of tourism in HP and said the state government should allow hotels to charge 9 per cent as COVID surcharge to the bills of visiting customers.

“In addition, the state government should expedite the process of completion of tourism linked infrastructure as helipads, national and state highways and link roads to promote tourist inflow for early revival of the sector after lockdown,” he added.

He was accompanied by Shimla Hotelier Association president Sanjay Sood and office bearers Anil Walia and Prince Kukreja.