Union Minister for Tourism and Culture Jagmohan has
stressed the need for a uniform tax pattern in transport,
motor vehicles, sales and luxury to ensure an uninterrupted
flow of tourists to Indian states.
Addressing the South Indian Tourism Ministers Conference
here, he said the different tax rates prevailing
in different states are becoming counterproductive for
the growth of tourism in the country. "The Centre
is ready to provide more concessions to the tourism industry
if the state governments evolve a comprehensive coordinated
masterplan for developing tourism in their respective
"The recent concessions in the service tax will be
a big relief to the tourism and hotel industry, hit since
11 September. The Centre will announce more concessions
if the states fall in line," he said. "Special
tourist circuits can be organised if the states cooperate
and have a uniform policy on taxation and transport."
The Centre is ready to send a delegation headed by a tourism
minister from one of the southern states to the Middle
East to attract tourists and promote tourist destinations;
representatives from the Centre and the trade can also
be included in the team, he said.
Pointing out that the country has failed to exploit its
assets, especially historical monuments, Jagmohan said
the Archeological Survey of India will be reorganised
to put them in a high pedestal. "This will give a
new lease of life to the monuments."
Kerala Chief Minister A K Antony in his inaugural address
said that concerted and coordinated efforts by the
states, in cooperation with the Union government, are
necessary to exploit the full tourism potential of the
country. "Tourism, along with information and biotechnology,
has emerged as a core competency sector for the growth
of the economy."
Antony said the Centre should address the issues related
to better air-connectivity, open-sky policy, simplification
of visa procedures, infrastructure, human resource development
and professionalisation in the tourism sector.
over the function, Kerala Tourism Minister K V Thomas
said the government has decided to increase the plan outlay
in the tourism sector from Rs 195 crore in the Ninth Plan
to Rs 1,000 crore in the Tenth Plan. Pointing out that
there are 23 taxes being levied on the
hotel sector and the lack of a uniform taxation, Thomas
said a semblance of uniformity and reasonable rates among
the states will benefit the industry.
Tamil Nadu Tourism Minister R Saroja, Pondicherry Tourism
Lekshmi Narayan, deputy high commissioner to Sri Lanka
Sumit Nakandalla, Union tourism secretary Rathi Vijay
Jha, Kerala state chief secretary V Krishnamoorthy, and
state tourism secretary T Balakrishnan were among those
who attended the meet.