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Covid-19 fallout: Amritsar tourism & hospitality industry stares at uncertainty

Hotels, restaurants and guest houses, etc, which are directly dependent on tourism, are not only facing huge losses but they see no hope of revival in the near future
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By Anil Sharma, Amritsar
PUBLISHED ON MAY 28, 2020 01:09 AM IST

The tourism and hospitality industry in Amritsar is staring at a bleak future in the wake of the lockdown imposed due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Such is the situation that hotels, restaurants and guest houses, etc, which are directly dependent on tourism, are not only facing huge losses but they see no hope of revival in the near future. There are around 700 hotels and guest houses Amritsar which attracts international as well as domestic tourists.

The Golden Temple, Partition Museum, Town Hall, Sadda Pind, War Memorial, Jallianwala Bagh, Attari-Wagah border, Durgiana Temple, Heritage Street, Ram Tirath Complex, Gobind fort and Pul Kanjari etc are among major tourist attraction centres.

Besides, it is also known for its gourmet traditions with roadside eateries dishing out delicacies such as kulchas, chhola-bhaturas, tandoori chicken and fried fish, etc.

“At this time, we can’t tell exactly how much loss the tourism industry has suffered during the lockdown period, but it has come to a complete halt. Besides hotels and restaurants, taxis and auto-rickshaw drivers as well as street vendors have been impacted badly,” said district tourism officer Gursharan Singh.

Before the lockdown, the district had an average footfall of nearly 1 lakh domestic and international tourists on weekdays, and 1.5 lakh on weekends, according to the Punjab tourism department. “We are in touch with the government to revive the industry in near future,” said Singh.

Surinder Singh, president, Federation of Hotels and Guest Houses Association, said, “It looks like it will take more than six months to contain the pandemic. Even if the tourists start coming here later, they won’t choose to stay in the hotels or dine at restaurants due to fear of infection. The government should step up to save the tourism industry on which livelihoods of hundreds of thousands are dependent on.”

“We are still giving salaries to our staff. We want relief in Goods and Service Tax (GST), municipal corporation tax and in the electricity bills or many hoteliers who have taken loans will be forced to take extreme step,” said the association chairman Harinder Singh.

Also, shopkeepers at the Attari border are facing a tough time due to the closure of beating the retreat ceremony for last two-and-a-half months.

“There are 28 dhabas in Attari and all of them are closed as we are not finding any customer due to the closure of the retreat ceremony,” said Jagdish Singh, a dhaba owner.

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