A hotel and restaurant players' association has suggested steps, including development of a mobile app for visitors, for reopening the COVID-19-hit tourism sector of Himachal Pradesh by July 15. The Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Association of Himachal (FOHRA) in a letter to Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur proposed a three-tier SOP and pointed out that the state should not rush to reopen the sector to safeguard state people from the coronavirus threat.
The association suggested that a mobile app, named Athithi, should be developed by the state tourism department and be made mandatory for every traveller to maintain a database of travellers for easy tracking. Every traveller needs to upload all details pertaining to their past or present travelling, irrespective of his objective to travel in the state, FOHRA State Co-Convener Sanjeev Gandhi said.
"This app should be linked with the concerned hotel/accommodation guest desired to stay, Gandhi added. He said that medical check up, precaution, and sensitization should be maintained by the state government at the state and district borders before tourists and their vehicle enter the state.
Government should also appoint a dedicated helpline, appoint district /town level emergency contact and if any guest found COVID-positive during the stay, entire responsibility should not be put on the stakeholder or hotel management. The government should also waive various taxes/ bills during the period of lock down," said Gandhi.
A traveller should be made responsible for uploading of correct data, COVID-free test certificate, commitment towards social distancing while travelling/staying in the state and maintaining of complete discipline during the stay, the association suggested.
Regarding responsibilities of the stakeholder, it suggested implementation of the measures by the department of tourism and in case of any indiscipline by the guest, the stakeholder reserve the right to take action and inform the contact point appointed by the government for further suitable action.
Gandhi said, We feel that the government has to take a lead in freezing the desired 3 tier SOPs as recommended and should not rush in reopening the sector in order to safeguard the life/ risk factor of the public of the state. The implementation of the proposed 3 tier system of SOPs will help us to reopen the tourism and Hospitality sector by July 15 in the state.