Tourists had a tough time as a majority of hotels in Puducherry, Cuddalore and Chennai remained closed following the agitation held as part of the all India stir to protest the imposition of 12.36 % Service Tax on hotels by the Central Government. But the shut down of hotels in Chennai did not seem to have affected the general public much as many small restaurants and eateries remained open.
The hoteliers in Puducherry also protested against the 10% VAT by the Union Territory administration.
Rajya Sabha MP from Puducherry P Kannan appealed to the Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram to withdraw the tax imposed on the AC restaurants.
According to infromation gathered here, Kannan said in Rajya Sabha: The tax for AC restaurants should be reconsidered and withdrawn as it is against the interest of the middle class and lower middle class people. It is this strata which generally opts for such restaurants and, moreover, now-a-days, mere AC facility may not be considered as a luxury at all.
The service tax came into effect on April 1 in all hotels and restaurants.
Meanwhile, the tourists had a tough time and had to depend on small hotels and wayside eateries, owing to the protest. Some of the middle class restaurants also remained closed to express solidarity with the strike, which had been called by the Federation of Hotels and Restaurants Associations of India (FHRAI) and Hotels and Restaurants Association, Western India (HRAWI), along with all state level associations in the country.
Even in Cuddalore district the situation was no different. Hotel owners said, owing to this double taxation, price of food items would increase and consequently the common people would get affected.
In Chennai, the protest had a good impact on those that operated as they made good sales.
Well-known hotels that have air-conditioned facility, however, remained shut during the day. Though the one-day closure came as a surprise for many, particularly those who arrived from other States at railway stations and the Koyambedu bus terminus, finding an alternative eat out just for a day was not difficult either.
A number of eateries and private catering services inside railway stations too cashed in on the closure as many passengers bought food from them after finding big hotels in the locality closed.