High taxes, pol­lu­tion ma­jor chal­lenges to yacht­ing in In­dia

Financial Chronicle - - PLAN, POLICY -

High tax­a­tion, lack of in­fra­struc­ture and ris­ing pol­lu­tion lev­els are im­ped­ing the growth of yacht tourism in In­dia, an in­dus­try ex­pert has pointed out.

In­dia has as high as 60 per cent tax on im­ports of yachts which is dis­cour­ag­ing in­dus­try play­ers from bring­ing lux­u­ri­ous boats into the coun­try, Gulu Lal­vani, the chair­man of Royal Phuket Ma­rina, told vis­it­ing In­dian jour­nal­ists on the side­lines of a yacht ex­hi­bi­tion here.

At the same time, places like Phuket have zero im­port tax on boats and of­fer great price ad­van­tage to en­thu­si­asts to own yachts at these places in­stead of im­port­ing into In­dia, he ex­plained.

Ac­knowl­edg­ing the Naren­dra Modi-led gov­ern­ment's ef­forts to pro­mote cruise and sea tourism in In­dia, he said the coun­try with its vast coast­line has a great po­ten­tial for the yacht in­dus­try and cre­at­ing jobs.

But ris­ing pol­lu­tion lev­els and lack of port base and berthing fa­cil­i­ties are ma­jor chal­lenges to growth, Lal­vani noted. The growth has been lim­ited to few places like Kochi and Goa de­spite a vast coast­line, he rued.

The prime min­is­ter in 2017 boarded a sea­plane in Gu­jarat as part of ef­forts to pro­mote wa­ter­based tourism ac­tiv­i­ties and wa­ter­ways. Trans­port and Ship­ping Min­is­ter Nitin Gad­kari is also push­ing for a hy­brid am­phibi­ous boat that can run on low depth wa­ters in In­dia. Cochin Port Trust is also mak­ing ef­forts to pro­mote cruise tourism.

How­ever, Lal­vani thinks this is not enough at a time when Phuket is emerg­ing as a yacht­ing hub in Asia due to at­trac­tive tax­a­tion pol­icy and favourable weather.

With air­lines like GoAir and IndiGo start­ing di­rect flights to the fa­mous tourist spot in Thai­land, it has be­come eas­ier for In­di­ans to fly to the city and en­joy yacht­ing than own­ing ex­pen­sive ves­sels in In­dia.

After the di­rect flights, the num­ber of In­dian tourists as well boat­ing en­thu­si­asts to Phuket has grown man­i­fold, Lal­vani noted, ex­press­ing con­fi­dence that In­di­ans would emerge as the third largest yacht own­ers in the city.

Now yacht traders are of­fer­ing frac­tional own­er­ship to In­di­ans which would also boost their flow to the tourist spot, he added.

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