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Friday, 25 January, 2019, 10 : 43 AM [IST]

Year of Good Hope!

For the tourism and hospitality industry in India, year 2018 has been quite positive although various policy-related issues continued to bother it. GST continued to pose challenges and related issues of IGST, ITC, etc. pester the industry even now. Looking forward, there are, of course, promises galore for the tourism sector in the New Year. From proposals to rationalise the GST rates to easing of e-Visa norms to infrastructure status for tourism projects to opening up the coastal areas for tourism activities, there are a number of promises which are doing the rounds. The PM and the FM had given ample indication, especially after the electoral drubbing in few states, that the GST rates will be rationalised and brought down to maximum of 18%. Unless the government condemns tourism products like hotel rooms in the ‘Sin’ list, there is reason to be positive.

The New India@75 strategy document released by all-powerful NITI Aayog also charts out key promises for travel, tourism and hospitality sector placing it in the top priority ‘Driver’ list. Major recommendation of the strategy document is to give ‘infrastructure status’ to tourism projects of all nature above value of INR 1 crore. If it’s not a typo, it’s definitely a windfall considering even the hotel industry associations haven’t been demanding such status for projects below the value of 25 crore. The recent approval by Union Cabinet to CRZ Notification 2018 is another major breakthrough. The new notification is believed to have quite relaxed guidelines as far as usage of coastal areas for tourism infrastructure and activities.

No doubt, there are so many other proposals and promises in all these strategy documents, but the only worry is the impending general elections. How many of these promises will get through and see the light of the day before the notification comes and the code of conduct comes into force is a question mark.

While business environment in the tourism sector is looking up, what is keeping the industry pundits busy and guessing is the turf war that broke out between the stakeholders of the same industry. The hoteliers and OTAs are at loggerheads. Similarly, relationships with tour operators and tourist transport operators also took a hit in the New Year. Let’s hope that sane sense prevails so that business environment in the industry remains congenial for everyone to prosper in the days to come.

PKrishna Kumar
Bureau Chief
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