The Sikkim Hotels & Restaurants Association (SHRA) has unanimously agreed to discontinue business with Goibibo and Make My Trip, expressing full support to the notice put forth by the Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Association of India (FHRAI) against the unfair and discriminatory business practices of the Online Travel Aggregators (OTAs).
All over India many other hotel associations have accused Go-MMT of overcharging on commissions of up to 35% on hoteliers, unfair accounting practices, and unauthorised discounting of hotel prices set by hoteliers. The boycotting of the portal gained momentum after Ahmedabad Hotel Association had first raised the issue which many other Associations and hotels followed on later.
These exploitative, unethical and divisive practices lead to predatory pricing and other market distortions that would harm hoteliers in the long run. Because of these it was becoming difficult for hoteliers to sustain business due to loss of revenue. Some of the prominent demand of the SHRA include — no coupon code discounting on hotels from OTAs; commission level to be set at 15%; no performance linked bonuses (PLB) without written consent of hotels and with exit clauses; early check in / late check-out / cancellation / modification policies to be decided only by the hotel and not the online portals; payments are to be more transparent with all payments to be made within 48 hours of a booking being made and not at the time of check in.
The tourism industry in Sikkim draws in a lot of revenue given that the annual footfall is about 25 lakhs. Hotels are a crucial actor in the overall picture, and it is only just that hotels are remunerated fairly for their services. Fair deals are especially important for a small mountain state like Sikkim where the cost of conducting business is much higher due to extra logistic costs. Sikkim is a very attractive destination for tourists seeking leisure and thrill alike, having the comparative advantage of being a green and clean state, the most peaceful state with its beautiful landscape, diverse flora and fauna, culture, traditions and hospitable people. It is also a gateway to the Northeast region of the country. To add to its charm, it has been a pioneer in ecotourism, with strong focus on community participation, natural and cultural conservation. It is now a fully organic state. The tourist footfall in Sikkim is constantly on the increase and Sikkim has now turned into a year-round destination for tourists. The expected revenue from this increase should go directly to the hoteliers instead of exploitative aggregators like Goibibo and Make My Trip.