‘My Shimla Hotel Is Ghosted, No Respite For Industry in Unlock 1’
Our properties in Himachal Pradesh have been completely shut since the lockdown.
The coronavirus lockdown has impacted many businesses across the country, which we all know and have heard of. As a hotelier, I’ve been personally affected by it too. Unfortunately, ‘Unlock 1’ is no respite for us.
I’ve been in the hospitality business ever since I graduated. Business was running smooth in Shimla as there was no end to tourism, be it summer vacation or weekend getaway – Shimla was always a perfect destination. So much so that when there was the infamous water crisis, we were still up and running. Nothing had a disastrous impact on the hospitality sector in Shimla, till COVID-19 happened.
Our properties in Himachal Pradesh have been completely shut since the lockdown was announced on the night of 24 March.
No Bookings or Queries
The news of opening of hotels and restaurants on 8 June is not a sign of relief for us for several reasons. The Himachal government has asked hotels to open from 8 June but only for locals within Himachal state business travel. No tourists are allowed to enter Himachal Pradesh or be entertained in hotels.
Local business travel accounts for only 1 percent of state tourism revenue, but with courts shut and government offices not working in normalcy, even getting these numbers is impossible.
Himachal Pradesh borders are sealed and people entering the state from a red zone will have to undergo institutional quarantine for 14 days, and 7 days home quarantine if they are coming in from orange or green zones. For this reason, public sentiment is not to travel at all. There have been no bookings and queries.
Moreover, Himachal Government has ordered that even when the hotels are opened for tourists, they will not be allowed to leave the room or go sightseeing. Children below 10 and people above 65 will not be allowed into the state. These regulations make no sense and it is not feasible for us to run our business under them.
Huge Cost of COVID-19 Norms
The cost of compliance with the new SOP norms by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare are huge. The SOPs state that you need to provide masks, gloves, sanitizers, unlimited bottled water and sanitise luggage and common areas with special chemicals – namely – R1, R2, R5 and R7.
Dishes and utensils need to be sanitized with special dishwashing chemicals multiple times a day and all staff need to be in PPE gear. All this expenditure and we are still not being able to operate in full capacity.
(The Quint has access to the safety and hygiene guidelines for tourism sector.)
So, the unified representation of 18 hotel associations of Himachal Pradesh have conveyed to the state government that they will not open till end-August or September. We are still awaiting response from the government on this.
Till the situation does not improve, the,hospitality sector will continue to bleed and tourist destinations in Himachal Pradesh (and perhaps the rest of the country) will remain ghost towns. For the time being, I just go and visit my empty hotels to ensure that there is water and electricity supply.
(The author wishes to stay anonymous. All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)
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