The Ministry of Tourism (MoT), Government of India is in the process of formulating a National Tourism Policy 2015 for development and promotion of tourism in the country. With the policy expected to roll our next month, Kamlesh Barot, past president, Federation of Hotel& Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) and Hotel& Restaurant Association – Western India (HRAWI) speaks about the issues which the policy should address. Excerpts:
1) What are your expectations from the National Tourism Policy 2015?
Having argued many a times with the tourism department during my tenure, as president of FHRAI for a new Tourism Policy, the draft now sent to us for the Tourism Policy 2015 leaves a lot to be desired. After going through it in detail we have the following demands sent to the department:
On the point mentioned in the policy – streamline and rationalise service tax for tourism service providers, I suggested that since the National Tourism Policy supersedes the State Tourism Policies, it should mention that there is multiplicity of taxes on the same tourism product- food and rooms (viz, VAT and Luxury tax respectively, charged by the states, as well as the Center charging Service Tax on food as well as rooms again). In order to avoid this anomaly the Tourism Policy 2015 would ensure that the states don’t charge these double taxes. From 2016 when the GST subsumes various taxes, credit for these double taxes shall not form a part of the Central or state GSTs.
(NGT) Environment policy as well as (FSSAI) Food policy, both again enacted from the Center shall through this National Tourism Policy, ensure that no states nor HRACC issues duplicate enforcement on stakeholders by way of licensing or permission fractures, we’ve demanded this to facilitate ease-of-business for this sector. Also no star related taxes and permissions are formulated by any government.
HDPB or the Single Window Clearance has not featured anywhere on the policy. I have made the draft for the state’s new Tourism Policy which, Maharashtra is on the verge of creating under the aegis of the HDPB-SWC in the new policy.
We have our objections on the Home Stay scheme. We’ve asked for a hearing that would clarify our stance.
2) What are the issues which the National Tourism Policy 2015 should address?
We’ve demanded to know whether the dedicated University for Tourism and Hospitality would encompass the National Council colleges spread across each state of India. There are few paralysis in the National Council strategy due to which the entrants to this stream have gone down drastically over the years .The new policy should address this issue.
We’ve demanded that FHRAI be a part of each committee promulgated under this Tourism Policy like the National Tourism Advisory Board, Inter-Ministerial Coordination Committee on Tourism, National Tourism Authority, etc.
3) As of now what are the loopholes in the policy?
The current policy is not only out-dated but many commitments have not been honoured by the department, as well as time-to-time new announcements by the ministry have dislodged the focus from macro tourism promotion to micro-management of hospitality features, emanating from the exposure some officer in their trips abroad feel wowed about, mandating it in a voluntary HRACC scheme!