Hit by lockdown, Odisha hoteliers seek govt help

Bhubaneswar: Hoteliers in Odisha have sought a slew of relief measures including waiver of taxes from the state government to tide over the crisis arising out of the ongoing nationwide lockdown, an official said on Monday.

The Reserve Bank of India”s announcement for three- month moratorium on loan repayments in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak is “not at all adequate” for the hospitality sector in the state, Hotel and Restaurant Association of Odisha chairman J K Mohanty said.

“Hoteliers have submitted a memorandum to the state government seeking a number of measures for the survival of the hospitality and travel sectors, which are severely hit by the lockdown.

“State tourism secretary Vishal Dev has also held a teleconference with us,” Mohanty told PTI.

The hotel industry needs moratorium on repayments of all working capital loans and overdrafts for at least one year, he said.

“There should be collateral and interest free loans up to 5 years for SMEs in tourism sector which will help them sustain and rebuild,” Mohanty said, adding that the state finance department was expected to write to all the banks for extending the relief urgently to the sector.

The hoteliers have also urged the government to waive state GST until the situation becomes normal.

“We want a complete GST holiday for the tourism, travel and hospitality industry for the next twelve months,” he said.

There should also be waiver of fees for licences or renewals for the hospitality and travel industry in the state for the time being, Mohanty said.

The hoteliers, in their petition, also said the urban development department should provide 50 per cent discount in payment of all statutory fees for getting approval of the tourism projects from the planning authorities.

“The taxes, which have been collected or yet to be levied during the COVID 19 period, bar licence, ground water and electricity fees should be waived for three months, ” he said.

The industry body said the wage bills for salary payments to staff account for 25-30 per cent of the revenue of a hotel, and the government has made a “request” to all hoteliers to ensure that there should be “no salary cut or no retrenchment”.

“Under such circumstances, the HRAO urged the government to consider extending interest-free financial assistance to the stakeholders for payment of salary, wages, and ESIC from the Odisha Labour Welfare Fund for at least six months,” Mohanty said.

The hoteliers also demanded a comprehensive marketing plan for revival of the sector.

“There should be a short and long term plans with a thrust on domestic travellers and Indian corporate with proper guidelines and various incentives for meetings, conferences and exhibitions,” Mohanty said.

This apart, the government should declare a tourism policy with incentives to boost infrastructure of the state, he added.


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