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Tourists choosing other states over Himachal due to special road tax: Former CM

Hitting out at the state government for imposing a special road tax on the entry of buses and taxis registered in other states, former Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on Monday said tourists prefer other states over Himachal Pradesh in the winter.

In a statement issued, Thakur said that instead of making efforts to revive the tourism sector, the state government is imposing taxes, which is further damaging the tourism industry. Thakur added that if data from various organisations are to be believed, people have cancelled 90 per cent of the advance bookings for the winter. The state transport department has imposed a tax of INR 3,000 to INR 5,000 per day on commercial vehicles registered in other states and plying in Himachal Pradesh from September 1 onwards.

Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu on Thursday said the state government would reduce the special road tax (SRT) and other taxes levied on tourist buses, tempo travellers and commercial tourist vehicles registered outside the state during an interaction with a delegation of Shimla Hotel and Tourism Stakeholders Association here. Thakur, also the Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly, said that the government has imposed additional tax on tourist buses and tempo travellers and due to which, every bus operator has to spend an additional INR 20,000-Rs 25,000 on a tour of four to five days.

This, he said, is not viable for them, and they are taking out Himachal Pradesh from their itinerary. If the situation continues, income generated by the tourism sector will be greatly affected and thousands of people associated with it will lose their livelihood, Thakur said. He added that stakeholders in the sector have met the chief minister and expressed their concerns, but so far no meaningful step has been taken by the government. “The CM should think about the loss caused to the tourism industry,” Thakur said, adding that the state government should try to provide support to the sector.

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