Goa considering sops for bottom-end tourism players

June 4th, 2009 - 4:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, June 4 (IANS) The Goa government is considering providing some sops to the tourism industry, which is hit hard by the economic slowdown as well as the Mumbai terror attack of last November, a senior state official said Thursday.
“I cannot give you exact figures now, but the government is actively considering rationalising the tax structure for the lower spectrum of tourism industry stakeholders,” Finance Secretary Udipta Ray told IANS.

Earlier, industry lobby Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) had made a representation to Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, seeking a relief package from the government to help the industry tide over the present slump.

TTAG president Ralph D’Souza said the lobby had sought several tax concessions and urged the government to launch a new tourism publicity campaign ahead of the next season, which is due in October.

“Current season was very poor because of the global meltdown and the (Mumbai) terror strikes in November, which took place at a crucial time when the season normally picks up in Goa,” D’Souza told IANS.

“The tourism operators, who had to lower their package prices and room rates due to the slowdown, ended up suffering losses,” he added.

TTAG is lobbying with the government for a cut back in luxury taxes imposed on tourism industry operators.

“The government has to rationalise luxury tax in order to help the industry,” D’Souza said, adding that smaller hotels should be exempted from paying luxury tax.

“We have also asked for a reduction by 50 percent on excise duty and slashing of value-added tax (VAT) for restaurants from 12 percent to 6 percent.”

The government should once again start promoting Goa through in-film advertising, D’Souza said.

The publicity campaign should reach overseas tourism markets like China, Southeast Asia and the Middle East, he added.

Goa, which annually sees approximately two million tourists flocking to its shores every tourist season, saw a considerable drop in numbers this year.

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