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Editorial

TRIBUNE EDIT-State managing hotels Himachal must push through leasing plans

September 17, 2018 05:59 AM

COURTESY THE TRIBUNE SEPT 17

State managing hotels
Himachal must push through leasing plans
That state-run hotels in Himachal Pradesh are running at a loss is no surprise. The state has not only been proved to be particularly wanting in the hospitality and customer-interface sectors, but also there is discrimination. There is a world of a difference in the treatment provided to the ordinary, average traveller and a functionary of the state — bureaucrats, judges, legislators and ministers. Indeed there is a case for abolishing all tourism development corporations and their replacement with a proactive grievance redress regulatory body. The Himachal Government needs to be commended for considering the issue of leasing out some of its three dozen loss-making hotels.

The government has rightly avoided the political trap of selling the hotels outright, for it not only leads to cherry picking, but private hoteliers who go for such properties are actually realtors. They view the property from the angle of exploitation of land entailing damage to heritage structures as well as more congestion and injury to the ecology. But the Himachal governmnet’s path has pitfalls. The comrades are active in the hills and their unrelenting agitprop has the potential to deplete the government’s political capital if they manage to send across the message that this is an employee-unfriendly government.

The HPTDC was relevant when the private sector was almost absent. But the stark reality is that with an army of 2,000 staffers and a poor track record of upkeep and maintenance — the sine qua non of the hospitality industry — the other alternative is to keep incurring losses. This is a road travelled in the past but the Virbhadra Singh government later developed cold feet. Since then, all alternative strategies such as focusing more on the off-season have come to grief. The government needs to get rid of the white elephant early in its tenure when political resistance is low. It also needs to demonstrably put the money saved to better use as well as prepare a satisfying golden handshake for the surplus staff or even renegotiate their terms of re-employment

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