PUDUCHERRY: Tourism Minister P Rajavelu on Thursday appealed to the Union government to take a decision for exemption of inter-State permit fees and entry taxes for small tourist vehicles in order to encourage domestic tourism.
He was speaking at the Tourism Ministers’ conference in New Delhi.
Referring to the rationalisation of tax structure in transport and hospitality sectors, Rajavelu said that in Puducherry, there was no entry tax for tourist vehicles and the luxury tax on the hotel industry was fully exempted. He told the conference that his Ministry has planned to develop an online Statistics Information System wherein each hotel can upload the tourist arrivals any time.
Further, he urged the Centre to empower the Puducherry government with necessary powers to approve tourism projects in private-public -partnership (PPP) mode. He said there were several PPP projects proposals but added that small projects have to be sent to the Centre for approval. He said that when there was an elected government, with the CM and Lieutenant Governor, the Union government can consider delegating powers to the local government for approving such projects.
Welcoming the new scheme of PRASAD and development of five new theme-based tourist circuits, he said since Puducherry was already established in the heritage corridor and pilgrimage circuit, the new initiatives would help the Union Territory further develop tourism.
Pointing out that Puducherry has seen an average growth of 8.5 per cent annually in the last five years, the Minister said, “We are giving importance to tourism in order to further the growth.”
He said that as per the decision taken in the last Southern Tourism Ministers’ Conference, the Puducherry government has made tourism the main economic agenda and various projects have been planned under PPP mode with increased budget allocation for tourism development. He said that more counters have been set up at the entry points to provide entry permits for tourist vehicles and VAT too has been reduced for hotels and restaurants.
Stressing on safety of tourists, Rajavelu said the Puducherry government has engaged 70 tourist guards for tourist support and guide service. Under the Hunar-Se-Rozgar-Tak Scheme, approximately 150 youngsters have been trained and 70 per cent of them now employed, he added.
The conference was attended by Union Minister for Tourism Shripad Naik, Tourism Ministers of various States and Union Territories, secretaries, directors and managing directors of various Tourism Corporations and officials of the Tourism Ministry.