Tourism sector demands tax reduction

| 20 July 2001 22:16 IST

The hospitality industry of India is crying for reduction in taxation, from 35 per cent to 10 per cent, for want of survival.

Perhaps this is the reason why the Hotel and Restaurant Association of western region has set "tourism - promote or perish" as the central theme of the tenth regional convention beginning here tomorrow.

"The time has come either to flourish with the government help or close down the shop", says Sunder Awatramani, the vice president of the association. He accuses the centre as well as several state governments of not bothering to listen to their woes.

According to him, the room occupancy has reduced by 40 per cent in the last three years as several other Asian countries like China, Indonesia, Thailand or Malaysia are offering much cheaper packages than India.

"How can we compete them when we have to pay almost 35 per cent towards taxation", asks Vasant Shetty, the association secretary. He claims that the taxation in China works out to only four per cent while it is not more than 10 per cent in any country in the world.

"We do not exist in the eyes of the government", adds Awatramani, stating that the central budget did not mention a single word on tourism in the last three years while it has not been granted industry status, except in Rajasthan and Goa.

Coming down aggressively on what they term as indifferent attitude of the authorities, they have invited Chattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi, Maharashtra Deputy CM Chagan Bhujbal, Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar, tourism minister of all the states as well as Atul Sinha, director general of tourism from Delhi.

Claiming that tourism creates 89 jobs for every Rs one million spent against 45 jobs in agriculture and 13 jobs in manufacturing sector, Shetty also claims that the hospitality sector could bring Rs 25,000 crore of foreign exchange annually if India achieves targeted figure of 3.5 milling foreign tourists by 2003.

But the rate of foreign tourist arrivals is stagnating for the last five years, adds Awatramani, while the authorities are not at all promoting India at international level, in comparison with rest of the Asian countries, at state as well as central level.

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