Small, Heritage Hoteliers Upbeat On Being Allowed Duty-free Imports

New Delhi, Jan 28: | Updated: Jan 29 2004, 05:30am hrs
The long standing demand of smaller and heritage hotels as well as stand alone restaurants to be treated at par with three-star and above for the purpose of duty free imports has been addressed at last.

This will now allow all stand alone restaurants, heritage hotels and one and two star hotels to mainly import liquor at zero duty to the extent of five per cent of their average foreign exchange earnings, ITC group company WelcomHeritage president Rakesh Mathur said. The average foreign exchange earning is calculated on the basis of foreign exchange earned in the previous three years by the company.

While the government had allowed duty free imports to the tourism sector last year, the notification issued by it did not include heritage hotels. Hoteliers, under the banner of Federation of Hotels & Restaurant Association of India (FHRAI), were demanding its inclusion for a long time. This is a great relief to the hospitality sector, he added.

Welcoming the decision, FHRAI secretary general Shyam Suri said, this was a long due demand of small hoteliers and restaurants. This will help small hoteliers, specially restaurants to import liquor on zero duty. Curre-ntly, duty on imported liquor is between 150 per cent to 552 per cent.

Commenting on the policy decisions taken by the government, The Leela Group of hotels vice chairman and managing director Vivek Nair said, I feel that the duty-free import scheme on alcoholic beverages which has now been extended to heritage and small hotels and restaurants is a welcome step as this will not only boost business for all hotels but will also discourage smuggling of alcohol. Through this scheme, alcoholic beverages will become more affordable to customers.

Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) president Anand Mahindra said the duty exemption extended to small hotels and independent restaurants would enable them to improve their services.

The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) president Mahendra K Sanghi has welcomed sops announcement for the service sector, which allows all types of capital goods including office and professional equipment under duty free entitlement scheme. This will help service sector immensely including the hospitality industry, he said.