Tourism Ministers’ Conclave: Kerala CM calls for introduction of affordable airfares

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan today made a strong pitch for reduction in GST rates on hotel rooms, elimination of disparity in inter-state taxes on tourism vehicles and introduction of affordable airfares to expedite growth of tourism in the country.

Inaugurating state Tourism Ministers’ Conclave 2019 in the presence of Union Minister of State (I/C) for Tourism and Culture Prahlad Singh Patel at Kovalam beach resort, Vijayan said though tourism in the country has high growth potential, removal of impediments like high tax rates is essential to consolidate India’s position as a prime global destination.

“Tourism industry is faced with some serious challenges. These include high tax rates, lack of sufficient air connectivity and disparity in inter-state taxes. There is also an urgent need to rationalize taxes across all states and establish a mechanism to address the frequent hike in airfares,” he added.

There is an imperative need to reduce 28 per cent and 18 per cent taxes on hotels levying rent of Rs 7,500 and above, and Rs 2,500 and above, respectively, the Chief Minister said.

Vijayan also emphasized the need to introduce affordable airfares to cushion stiff international competition and standardization of service parameters to ensure high quality of services in the hospitality sector.

Noting that India with its immense diversity has tremendous tourism potential, he said it is important to have periodic exchange of ideas and interactions among states to address challenges impeding the growth of tourism in the country.

“Development of tourism in any part of the country helps the entire country. Therefore, we need to work together. We need to improve best practices,” the Chief Minister added.

The deliberations at the meet focused on three major topics: ‘Best practices in Sustainable Tourism’; ‘Challenges faced by Tourism Industry’; and ‘Branding and Promotion of State Tourism Boards’.

Bihar Tourism Minister Krishnakumar Rishi; Karnataka Tourism Minister C.T. Ravi; H. Khehovi Yeputhomi, Advisor in Charge of Department of Tourism, Art and Culture, Nagaland; and Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi, Odisha Tourism Minister, were present in the conclave.

P. Sreeramakrishnan, Speaker, Kerala Assembly; M. Vijaya Kumar, Chairman, Kerala Tourism Development Corporation; Rani George IAS, Secretary Tourism and Culture; and P Bala Kiran IAS, Director, Tourism, attended the event, which also saw the presence of office bearers of various industry organisations.