Demanding a separate permit for tourist buses in Tamil Nadu, the Chennai Metro Tourist Bus Association (CMTBA) on Saturday has appealed to Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa to consider their request, which according to them, would not only benefit the bus operators, but also the generate revenue for the government.
The absence of a separate permit in Tamil Nadu has forced the bus operators to pay high tax within the State and also in the other states and with the ever increasing diesel prices, it has added to their woes.
According to the association, this has led to a dwindle in the number of tourists who used to land in Chennai. Instead, the tourists now prefer to land either in Karnataka or Kerala, where there are separate permits for tourist buses, to take a tour to Tamil Nadu.
Due to high charges, the bus operators are unable to use omni buses for tour travelling as both the customers and the operators end up spending more.
“We cannot use the omni buses for tourism because the tax rates are very high — around `3,000 per seat for a quarter. This affects the tourists also because the rates are very expensive as we are forced to charge more in order to pay taxes. So, right now, we are using spare mofussil buses from other districts, which cost around `375 per seat for a quarter duration. But the association in other districts does not allow us to use those spare buses, which has created serious problems for us and forced many to leave their jobs,” said A Thirumalainatham, chairman of CMTBA.
Owing to the Sabarimala season that is around the corner, the association is expecting a positive move from the government as soon as possible. They are confident that once such a permit is introduced, it will attract more tourists to Tamil Nadu, which will boost their income and the government’s revenue through tourism.
“If we get a separate permit for tourist buses, we can not only attract foreign tourists, but also medium and low income group people in our own State who find it very difficult to travel even for a short-term vacation. The government will get good revenue out of tourism if more people start touring and also additional foreign exchange if more foreign tourists land in Chennai and take our services,” said Illangovan, a member of the association.