With the onset of the summer tourism season the Himachal government is getting ready to crack the whip on all unauthorized hotels and guest houses operating in the state that are eating into the revenues of state-run hotels. Over the years unregistered hotels and guest houses have mushroomed all over the state, especially in Kullu, Kangra and Solan districts. As nearly half a dozen government departments are reported involved in the business, the government has adopted a lackadaisical approach toward these hotels despite massive tax evasion, inflicting huge losses to the exchequer.
State tourism board vice-chairman and former tourism minister Vijay Singh Mankotia said Wednesday stringent action would be taken against unauthorized hotels and guest houses. “All hotels and guest houses that are not registered with the Himachal tourism department and have virtually running a parallel business must be checked. The lax attitude of government departments encourages those operating these hotels to flout regulations, hurting state revenues,” he added.
According to government records, there are 33 unregistered hotels and guest houses in Kullu district, 55 in Kangra, 23 in Solan, 18 in Chamba, two in Mandi and three in Shimla. It is mandatory for all hotels to register with the tourism department and then to obtain a VAT certificate from the excise & taxation department. Registration is granted to hotel after the hotel meets the requirements on the number of rooms and other facilities.
With online booking of hotel rooms becoming easier almost all unauthorized hotels and guest houses have set up their portal on the internet. There have been instances of fleecing by such hotels but when those cheated go to the tourism department they are told the office has no record of the hotel.
“These unauthorized hotels and guest houses are operating openly in Himachal Pradesh and obviously some state departments have provided all facilities to them. The urban local bodies, state electricity board, irrigation and public health department, pollution control board, town, country and planning department and excise & taxation departments are directly involved in their business,” Mankotia said.
Hotels, guest houses: 2400
Bed capacity: 65000
Home stay: 650
Bed capacity: 3600
Tour and travel agents: 1772
Tourist guide: 981
--tourist influx in 2014—
Domestic: 1.59 cr
Foreigners: 3.89 lakh
Total: 1.63 cr