Jammu Kashmir Hoteliers Club (JKHC) on Monday said the Kashmir tourism industry was on the collapse and demanded the government to provide them “promised” reimbursement of GST till the issue was taken up with the GST council. A spokesman of the JKHC an apex organization of all the leading hoteliers of Jammu & Kashmir said that a delegation led by its chairman, Mushtaq Ahmad Chaya, raised the issue with Governor Satya Pal Malik at Raj Bhavan on Monday. In the meeting it was pointed out by Chaya that tourism industry in Kashmir was on 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,” the spokesman quoted Chaya as having said.
“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,” said Chaya. He said the quantum of support for each room will be worked out by them in consultation with the Govt. Chaya said that Kashmir tourism used to be exempted from the taxes, but 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. “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,” he said. 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, he said, 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,” said Chaya.