COVID-19 hits hospitality industry adversely in Siliguri

Siliguri (West Bengal) [India], Mar 21 (ANI: Siliguri, one of the major tourist destinations in West Bengal, has been adversely affected as the number of tourists has reduced due to coronavirus scare in the country.

One of the taxi drivers who take tourists to Darjeeling said that the tourist footfall has reduced drastically post-pandemic.

He told ANI: "The market is really in a bad shape right now as tourists are not coming these days. Before the coronavirus outbreak, I used to get booking for 20-25 taxis daily. But now, I only get 2-3 bookings."

He further said that restaurants and hotels are relatively empty as well. He appealed to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for some relaxation in the loan taken to purchase cars.

"We appeal our Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to talk to the banks regarding our loans, which were taken for purchasing vehicles for the trip," he added.

Echoing the same sentiment, Jakir, a hotelier, said the situation is really bad. "The situation is really bad as there are no tourists. People are not coming to our restaurants. The rooms in the hotel are also unoccupied," he added.

Tanmoy Goswami, coordinator, Himalayan Hospitality and Tourism Development Network (HHTDN), pointed out that Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Dooars and Sikkim are having around 75,000 rooms for tourists.

"After receiving several notices from the Centre and state governments to evacuate these places, close to 50,000 employees directly and 5,00,000 indirectly are jobless," he said.

He urged the government to give some relaxations in the Goods and Services Tax (GST), TCS. "We need some relief in GST, TCS. If they can give some relief, it would be very helpful as the industry is in a dying condition. It is on death bed as of now," he said.

India has so far reported 283 confirmed cases of COVID-19. (ANI)