AFTER a 13-year gap, the Ministry of Tourism is setting a new national tourism policy in motion, though some quarters have found it disappointing.
Released on May 1, the initial draft of the new national tourism policy outlines the establishment of new tourism bodies, including the National Tourism Advisory Board, the Inter-Ministerial Coordination Committee on Tourism, a Medical Tourism Promotion Board and a MICE Promotion Bureau.
The tourism ministry also invited feedback from various sectors of the industry. Suman Billa, joint secretary for tourism, said: “We have received many suggestions…After due consideration with various ministries, the draft of the National Tourism Policy of 2015 may undergo a few changes.
“The final draft will again be sent to the cabinet for approvals and only after seeking the ministries’ acceptance will the policy be made public.”
However, the present draft is drawing flak from the hospitality sector that alleges the new policy is neglecting its needs, especially its longstanding demand that it be given industry status.
Speaking to TTG Asia e-Daily, Beni Agarwal, business consultant, GK Hospitality Services, said: “Industry status helps hoteliers and investors by narrowing down on licences and bringing in a single-window clearance system. Secondly, it helps industry stakeholders borrow cheaper loans from financial institutions with repayment period of 15 to 20 years. Also, certain projects in special zones are given tax holidays for five years.”
The Hotel & Restaurant Association of Western India last week sent a letter to the Prime Minister’s Office calling for a revisit of the policy to ensure that hospitality gets “deserved attention”.
Association president, Bharat Malkani, said: “If hospitality as a sector is ignored then service levels will definitely take a plunge, leading to a bad experience for the tourist.”
The initial new tourism policy draft declares that all hospitality projects will be classified as industrial when it comes to utility charges, property taxes and levy of industrial rates.