The tourism industry in the Queen of Hills is heading towards a collapse due to the burden of taxes, lack of infrastructure, increasing salaries, other overheads, high cost of purchase of water through tankers, heavy commission and global competition. To find a solution to the problems, the Tourism Industry Stake Holders Association has decided to take up the matter with the state government.
The association had formed a committee in January to evaluate the reason for the steep decline in the tourist inflow, short span of stay of only one night, effects of heavy taxation and other reasons affecting the tourism industry, said president of the association MK Seth, adding that they were preparing a document for presenting it before the government.
He said the advisory board of the association should be formed by inducting experienced stakeholders to bring the industry on track. It was also resolved that other associations might be brought under one umbrella. “The association is planning to organise a ‘Maha Sammelan’ of hoteliers and other stakeholders shortly,” he added.
Seth said the government had imposed so many taxes, such as the luxury tax, service tax, VAT, house tax, renewal fee of tourism licences, garbage collection charges, sewerage cess, demand charges on electricity, elevator licence fee, bar licence fee and green tax.
“The water rates in Shimla for commercial consumers are the highest in the state ranging from Rs 60 to Rs 110 per kilo litre,” members of the association said.
They said tourists should get the benefit of paying the green tax by getting free parking. Moreover, the Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board has levied the fixed demand charges at the rate of Rs 80 to Rs 125 per unit and the hoteliers, irrespective of any occupancy in hotels, have to pay those.