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Tourism Industry on edge

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There is no tourist season even after the claims by the authorities that tourist traffic will pick-up on this month of May. There is grim picture being given by the stakeholders of the industry in Kashmir Valley and they claim that there is no improvement in tourist traffic. Most of these stakeholders have said that, due to very low tourism in the past few years, they are at the brink of closure and have appealed Governor Satya Pal Malik to bail them out from the crisis.

A delegation of Jammu Kashmir Hoteliers Club (JKHC) led by its chairman held a meeting with Governor Satya Pal Malik recently and apprised him of the issues being faced by the hoteliers. They pointed out that the tourism industry in the Valley was “on the verge of collapse and near closure” as for the past almost three years they had been facing losses and were left with no resources to pump into the establishments. Due to the very low tourism, the hoteliers told Governor that it had become impossible for them to keep the hotels open.

The hoteliers have appealed government to adopt an approach similar to the one followed by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2004 when room-wise financial assistance was considered for various categories of hotels as listed in the tourism department for revival and refurbishment of the properties.

The hoteliers have asked the Governor to give them cash assistance to various categories of hotels, but this time it has to be an ex gratia and non-refundable cash support to the hospitality sector till it shows some signs of revival.

It is impossible to survive in the present conditions and to repay bank loans with increasing interests from various institutions like J&K Bank, J&K State Financial Corporation, etc. The Kashmir tourism used to be exempted from the taxes; however, since the extension of the GST, the overall tourism industry has been hit by the rise in costs and prices at hotels, guest houses, houseboats, restaurants and even the tour operator services. The hoteliers also demanded that the hotel industry be treated on a par with the small-scale industry for electricity tariff.

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