'Show figures, take tax-holiday'

| 04 December 2001 17:30 IST

Goa government appears to be in a mood to provide taxation intensive to the hospitality industry here, but insists that the industry proves with facts and figures that the recession has really hit the tourism scene severely.

Chief minister Manohar Parrikar has responded positively to the demand made by state opposition leader Luizinho Faleiro to declare tax holiday for Goan tourism trade, but with a condition.

"You provide facts and figures to prove that the season has witnessed disturbing slowdown", he states, while also claiming that November has shown almost 80 per cent occupancy in most of the hotels in the state.

Goa’s season begins by mid-October and reaches its peak by last week of December, on the eve of Christmas, to last till the end of January, even after the New Year fever subsides. The flow ratio is normally 80-20 in the foreign-domestic segments.

"In addition to the world recession and WTC tragedy of 11 September, the industry here is also hit by high taxation measures adopted by the government in the form of rise in luxury and excise tax", alleges Faleiro, the Congress leader.

The BJP chief minister however vehemently dismisses it, though he has announced small damage control measures like excluding less congested coastal villages from high licence fees for bars and bringing down licence fee for traditional wholesale of cashew and coconut fenny, from Rs 10,000 to Rs 2500.

"We will be much relieved if the period for concessional luxury tax of four per cent is extended till December rather than charging 10 per cent", states S V Balaram, president of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa.

Responding to the demand made by the TTAG at a specially convened meeting to review the tourism scene in the state, Parrikar has agreed to accept the demand, provided facts and figures are provided by the hoteliers to justify their contention.

Though foreign charters as well as domestic tourist inflow has not affected much in the state in spite of recession, Balaram claims that Foreign Group Travellers and Foreign Individual Travellers have literally stopped coming, affecting the hotel occupancy.

Rather than star hotels, which also accommodate charter tourists, this trend has actually hit the small rooms provided by coastal villagers in their houses, for a period ranging between a fortnight to six months. Neither any association represents them nor tourism department has any system to collect data from them.

If no proper data is provided regarding these low-budget foreigners who live for months together in the coastal belt, perhaps the state government may not go ahead with tax concession proposal, affecting the small hoteliers and shack owners who depend on this segment.

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