Ill-planned construction of national highways has doomed tourism in Shimla Stakeholders

Shimla, Aug 7 (PTI) Poorly-planned construction of national highways in the "fragile hills" has doomed the Shimla tourism industry, as neither rail nor road network has opened between Shimla and Kalka, tourism industry stakeholders said on Monday.
     “Tourism in Shimla has come to a grinding halt due to negligence of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and ill-planned construction of national highways," President of Shimla Hotels and Tourism Stakeholders' Association Mohinder Seth said in a statement on Monday.
     The tourism sector of Shimla is suffering from financial losses every year since 2018 due to one reason or another, the statement said.
     Due to the closure of Shimla-Kalka National Highway 5 near Koti and the suspension of Kalka-Shimla train service due to landslides at various places damaging the tracks, there is hardly any occupancy in hotels, he said, adding that a month has passed (since the rains battered the state), but there is still just 0-2 per cent occupancy, he added.
     Apart from hotels, travel agents, food joints, taxi operators, tourist guides, photographers, amusement park units, ropeways, water sports units, the people working in allied industries who are dependent on tourism hardly have any business, he said.
     Hoteliers are struggling to meet expenditures such as electricity, water bills, garbage collection fee, and other fixed expenses, Seth said.
     The Shimla Hotels and Tourism Stakeholders' Association urged the government to help the ailing industry and defer payment of water and electricity bills for six months without surcharge and exempt garbage fee till tourist inflow increases.
     We further urge the state government to take up the matter with the Centre to direct banks so that loan repayments can be deferred and ask them to provide emergency credit line/soft loans to stakeholders, the statement said.
     The association further urged the Centre to release a special package for tourism at the earliest to save the industry.

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)