The Centre on Wednesday said it will certainly take up the issue of "hefty" GST on hotel rooms tariff in the meeting of its council as it impacts the tourism industry. This was stated by Rupinder Brar, Additional Director General, Ministry of Tourism.
"The government is sensitive to the needs of the industry and I am sure that the government will be looking at various dimensions and the fact that is impacting tourism," Ms Brar told reporters on the sidelines of the Odisha Tourism Conclave here.
The ADG's statement is significant as it came two days after the Tourism Ministers' Conclave at Kovalam in Kerala, where different states had expressed concern over the high GST rate on hotel rooms and demanded a reduction. The Kerala conclave, in a unanimous resolution, had expressed concern over the GST Council of India imposing 28 per cent Goods and Services Tax on hotel rooms tariff over Rs 7,500 and 18 per cent tax on rooms with tariffs between Rs 2,500 and Rs 7,500. This tax rate was high compared with other countries, it had stated.
Ms Brar said the government will study how much it (GST rate) is impacting the industry. "I am sure they (GST Council) will take a decision which is not only in the interest of the industry, but also the country as a whole," she said. The ADG said the ministry will represent the issue of GST, which has been brought to its notice.
"We are hoping that the Council will look at the logic that we shall be representing," she said. Earlier, Odisha's tourism minister J P Panigrahi, state tourism secretary Vishal Dev and Hotel and Restaurant Association of Odisha (HARO) chairman J K Mohanty had expressed concern over the high GST rate on the hotel rooms while speaking at the meet. The conclave, inaugurated by Odisha Governor Ganeshi Lal, deliberated on the theme of tourism to be driving force of the state economy.
Union minister of state for Tourism and culture (Independent charge) Prahlad Singh Patel was scheduled to attend the conclave, but he could not come. "There is a need to publicise Odisha's natural resources like forests, lakes, hills and others and also the state's culture in order to attract more tourists to Odisha," Lal said adding that developing heritage sites and natural tourism places will help to boost the state's potential besides providing employment to the local youths.
Odisha Tourism Minister J P Panigrahi said the state aims to develop Puri as an international tourist destination for which the government has earmarked an investment of Rs 500 crore.
Tourism secretary Vishal Dev said there are plans for the development of the tourism sector in Odisha. He said eco-tourism, Buddhist tourism, tribal tourism, spiritual tourism, sports tourism and others have a vast potential to attract tourists to Odisha.
Rajan Sehgal, co-founder Passionals, a travel body, in his remarks suggested that the state's tourism sector should also include golf courses and other high-end facilities to attract corporate tourists. Experts from different fields, including representatives from travel, trade, performing arts, adventure sports, airlines, media, digital marketing and others attended the conclave.
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