Tourism in Kashmir at the verge of collapse: Chaya
KD NEWS SERVICE
SRINAGAR, May 13: A delegation of Jammu Kashmir Hoteliers Club (JKHC) led by its chairman, Mushtaq Ahmad Chaya, held a meeting with the Governor of Jammu & Kashmir at Rajbhawan, Srinagar on May 13th, 2019. JKHC is an apex organization of all the leading hoteliers of Jammu & Kashmir.
In the meeting it was pointed out by Chaya that tourism industry in Kashmir was at the verge of collapse and near closure. For last almost three years we are running cash losses and were left with no resources to pump into the establishments. Hoteliers have been keeping the hotels open against all odds. The current year has shown depressing and disappointing tourist foot fall that it had become impossible for them to keep the hotels open and have the employees on board. It was suggested that way back in 2004 the then prime minister of India, Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, considered room wise financial assistance to various categories of Hotels as listed in Tourism Department for revival and refurbishment of the properties.
On the same lines we submitted that similar kind of approach needed to be adopted in instant cases in the form of Cash Assistance to be provided to various categories of hotels for each room as was done in 2004, but this time around it has to be ex-gratia and non-refundable cash support to the hospitality sector of the tourism industry till such time it shows some signs of health.
The quantum of support for each room will be worked out by us in consultation with the Govt. The financial condition of everyone is deteriorated, the maintenance costs of running a business unit is high, retaining the employees at decent salaries with benefits is impossible and keeping the standards for the customers is in danger, while it is impossible to survive in present conditions it is absolutely un-bearable to keep the commitments of repayment of bank loans with increasing interests from various institutions like J&K Bank, J&K State Financial Corporation. etc.
Kashmir tourism used to be exempted from the Taxes, however, since the extension of 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. Even after the several promises made by Govt. and concerned, at state level, we have not been given any relaxation of tax waiver to help and promote the tourism sector in most exasperating times where the business has gone down highly.
The survival of the units and the employment provided to local youth has become questionable rather agonizing. Even Micro, Small and Medium business units be that a hotel, a Resort, a Restaurant, a Guest House, a Houseboat, a Home Stay, a Café, a Handicraft shop, a Transporter, a Shikara wala, a pony wala and others are at the verge of closure due to the continuous financial losses as a result of the nil tourism.
In this connection it was submitted that till the Govt. persuades the GST council to drop the tax the promised reimbursement of the GST be kindly done as we fall under micro, small and medium enterprise. This is the commitment made by the Govt. as a policy matter and not by way of any concession as this service (hospitality) industry is included in the industrial policy.
The electric tariff was still a pain to the hoteliers as the benefits which are extended to the small scale industry have not been given effect for hotel industry as the order issued in this behalf, in 2018, was quite clear that hotel industry will be treated at par for electricity tariff as like that of small scale industry. It was suggested that the order be kindly implemented and respected.
The Governor gave a patient hearing in a cordial atmosphere to the submissions made by the delegation. It is essential to mention here that the helpful attitude of the Governor was inspiring and we express our thankfulness to him.
The Governor was kind enough to tell the delegation that he would look into the matters and get all these problems resolved without delay. To this effect a detailed memorandum, which contains other points as well, was submitted to him for his kind consideration