Rs 500-cr Fund Likely For Tourism Promotion

New Delhi, Sept 24: | Updated: Sep 25 2003, 05:30am hrs
The ministry of tourism intends to set up a Rs 500-crore tourism development fund (TDF). Other ministry proposals pertain to a liberal civil aviation policy and putting tourism in the concurrent list of Constitution for better coordination between the Centre and states.

The tourism development fund proposal has been sent to the Planning Commission. Once approved by Planning Commission, the fund proposal will go to the Union Cabinet.

Half of the fund would be utilised for bridging minor gaps in infrastructure at local level. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had earlier announced the setting up of the tourism development fund.

The quarterly performance review (QPR) meeting on the ministry of tourism was held here on Wednesday under Planning Commission deputy chairman KC Pant.

The ministry informed at the quarterly performance review meeting that it was confident of spending Rs 325 crore plan fund for the current fiscal. In fact, it may need more.

According to official sources, Mr Pant is reported to have assured the ministry that funds would never be a problem for performing ministries.

He urged the tourism ministry to study the impact of its schemes on employment.

While a majority of states are favourably inclined to incorporating tourism in the concurrent list, seven states are opposed to the move.

The seven states are Andhra Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.

At the quarterly performance review meeting, the Planning Commission directed the ministry of tourism to prepare a model legislation for states, based on international experience, so that a consensus could be evolved on the issue.

At present, tourism does not figure in any of the three lists of the Constitution namely, Central, state and concurrent.

The tourism ministry suggested a liberal civil aviation policy, in which foreign airlines could be given a consistent policy for three to five years for flights during the October-February season.

The ministry also wants the current state level taxes on aviation turbine fuel to be replaced by a Central sales tax.

Mr Pant directed the ministry to lay emphasis on acceptable drinking water, hygiene and sewerage while working on tourism promotion projects, said official sources.

The projects should be prioritised, he added.

The Plan panel chief also recommended the integration of the ongoing tourism projects with similar schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana.

At the quarterly performance review meeting it was mentioned that Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and the North-Eastern states are lacking in efforts to promote tourism.

In fact, a project for the Ganga heartland similar to that of Palace-on-wheels of Rajasthan has proved to be a non-starter only because of there has been little response from the state government.

The dropped projects also came up for discussion at the quarterly performance review meeting.

Golf tourism is one of them. It has been dropped because private parties are showing a great deal of interest in promoting this.