Stating that his ministry has recommended to the central government to lower the stiff GST levied on hotels, Union Tourism Minister Pralhad Singh Patel on Thursday exuded confidence that the recommendation would be considered at the earliest.
“Tourism stakeholders have demanded that the GST imposed on hotels be reduced. My ministry has communicated the same to the government. I have full faith and confidence that the government will respond to our request positively,” Patel said while speaking at a function held in the city.
Attributing the decline in tourist footfalls to high rates of GST on hotel stays, hoteliers in the state and across the country have sought a reduction of GST to a minimum 12 per cent from 28 per cent.
Patel said the central government recently decided to extend the validity of e-tourist visa to five years from the existing one year.
The Centre has also revised fee structure: fee for e-visa of less than 30-day validity has been reduced to US $10 from US $25.
The Union minister also informed that among the 17 iconic sites in the country, South Goa’s Colva beach will also be developed under the ‘iconic tourist sites development’ project which will be funded by the Centre.
Earlier in the day, Patel inaugurated tourism
infrastructure facilities funded by the Centre under the Swadesh Darshan scheme
in the presence of Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, Rural Development
Minister Michael Lobo and Tourism Minister Manohar Azgaonkar.
The Union minister also laid foundation stones for a convention centre at Rua De Ourem at Patto-Panaji and renovation and restoration of the Aguada jail.
The government intends to start a light and sound show at the Aguada jail for tourists depicting struggle of Goa’s freedom fighters.
Patel also launched ‘Goa Tourism Mobile’ application, which will provide information to tourists regarding hotel and cruise bookings, local festivals and 360-degree view of tourist spots.
Speaking on the occasion, Sawant claimed that the state government have executed and completed 60-70 per cent of the tourism-related infrastructure projects.
“In the recent past, we have seen incidents where locals thrash tourists on roads. Such incidents should not take place. Let the law take its own course… we Goans are not known for such things. We should lend helping hand to tourists,” he appealed.
Sawant said that many development projects could not be executed by the government due to opposition from NGOs.
Lobo said that casinos in the state are an “added attraction” for tourists especially married couples. He, however, clarified that by saying this he is not trying to promote casinos.
Lobo said that it was high time that infrastructure was created to promote hinterland tourism in the state.
Stating that tourism is the only source of revenue for the government after the closure of the mining industry, Azgaonkar urged Patel to provide funds for tourism projects under different central government schemes.
“If we can’t save tourism then we will lose the only source of income. Hence I appeal to you to provide additional funds for Goa,” he said.
GTDC Chairman Dayanand Sopte urged the Union Tourism Minister to provide funds for the facelift of Bondla Zoo and beaches.