Closure of NH-5: The hospitality industry in Shimla comes to a grinding halt 

The Entire Hospitality industry in Shimla town came to a grinding halt after the closing down of Chandigarh to Shimla National Highway no-5 on August 2.

President of Shimla Hotel and Tourism Stakeholders Association Mohinder Seth said that due to NHAI’s negligence and ill-planned construction of national highways, the tourism sector of Shimla is suffering financial losses every year since 2018 due to one reason or the other.

He said that now due to the closure of the National highway and suspension of the Kalka- Shimla train service, there is hardly any occupancy in the hotels.

More than one month has passed there is zero revenue collection in the Tourism units which has broken the backbone of the tourism stakeholders.

Apart from hotels travel agents, food joints, taxi operators, tourist guides, photographers, horse walks, amusement, park units, ropeways, water sports unit, and other stakeholders dependent on tourism are hardly having any business.

The hotel industry which has given the highest employment is worried about where to pay salaries in the absence of zero occupancy for more than one month. 

The hoteliers are feeling helpless to meet the expenditures like Electricity, water bills, garbage collection fee, and other fixed expenses due to hardly one to two percent occupancy in hotels. 

The tourism stakeholders are under financial stress because during the COVID pandemic, the loans were restructured for two years and the additional loans were given under the emergency credit line scheme now in July the EMI along with interest of two years has become due to be paid together.

This year the occupancy in May remained around 40 percent at discounted tariffs even the June the occupancy remained low except during the last two weekends.

The stakeholders fear that their loans may not slip to NPA. It’s difficult to predict how much time it will take to restore the National Highway and Railway has already shown its inability to restore the kalka shimla train service before the 15th of September.

The association urges the government to provide relief to the tourism industry by the earliest in the interest of saving the already ailing industry. 

We further urge the government of India to release a special package for tourism by the earliest to save the dying tourism industry, Mr. Seth said.

He said that payment of water and electricity bills may be deferred for six months without a surcharge. 

Association also said that the garbage fee may be exempted till tourism comes back on the rails. The monthly  Fixed demand charges charged by HPSEBL  may be exempted for six months.

The  EMI of loans may be deferred up to May 2024 without any effect on CIBIL and soft loans in the shape of emergency credit line  may be provided to the tourism stakeholders.

 We further urge the state government to take up the matter with the center to give directions to the banks to defer the loans and provide emergency credit lines or soft loans to the stake holders.

In case timely help will not be extended to the Tourism sector the Stakeholders involved in the tourism industry will completely collapse.

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