‘Cap­ping of air­fare cru­cial for in­dus­try’

IATO Pres­i­dent Sub­hash Goyal voices his opin­ion on the var­i­ous chal­lenges in the In­dian tourism in­dus­try and iden­ti­fies sev­eral ar­eas that need swift im­prove­ment for a more com­pe­tent in­dus­try.

TravTalk - India - - Agents - AHANA GU­RUNG & SAMAPTI DAS

The year 2015 has been quite an event­ful one for the travel trade and tourism in­dus­try in In­dia, with re­forms tak­ing place in ev­ery as­pect – some for the bet­ter, some for the worst. One of the ma­jor mile­stones achieved so far is the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the e-Tourist Visa, a rad­i­cal step taken to­wards boost­ing in­bound tourism in the coun­try but one that still needs some fine-tun­ing here and there.

Sub­hash Goyal,

Pres­i­dent, IATO, feels that sev­eral other is­sues need to be looked into for th­ese changes to have an ef­fec­tive im­pact and says, “For eTV to achieve the de­sired ef­fect, it needs to be well pub­li­cised by the In­dian em­bassies abroad. There are still so many tourists who have no clue about th­ese de­vel­op­ments and I have heard of many such in­stances where a group of tourists have been left wait­ing for a nor­mal visa. An­other mat­ter of im­por­tance is that at the air­port, some of the ma­chines that clear ap­proval of eTV at im­mi­gra­tion ei­ther do not func­tion, or are not suf­fi­cient in num­ber. It should ideally take just 23 min­utes to clear the visa, but cur­rently, it takes about an hour.”

Goyal high­lights sev­eral other mat­ters that need to be worked on. “One of the big­gest chal­lenges, I would say, is the ex­emp­tion of ser­vice tax based on for­eign ex­change earn­ings,” says Goyal. “This is very im­por­tant be­cause we feel that we are be­ing dis­crim­i­nated against since the phys­i­cal ex­porters based on FEE are ex­empted from ser­vice taxes. There­fore, the tour oper­a­tors, es­pe­cially the smaller ones, are re­ally be­ing has­sled be­cause of this. Ad­di­tion­ally, the Swachh Bharat cess of 0.5 per cent has also come into ef­fect. Al­though we have al­ways been sup­port­ive and have par­tic­i­pated in the Swachh Bharat cam­paign since the very be­gin­ning, this levy of cess, I feel, is not jus­ti­fied. I’m not in favour of over tax­a­tion as we are al­ready a highly taxed coun­try,” he elab­o­rates.

Goyal also throws light on the com­pul­sory li­cens­ing of travel agents and is of the opin­ion that al­though they are against the idea as an as­so­ci­a­tion, bring­ing about dis­ci­pline in the in­dus­try is cru­cial. “If you are recog­nised by MOT, all you need to do is present your reg­is­tra­tion pa­pers to Delhi Tourism and you will get the li­cense. The mis­use of the In­cred­i­ble In­dia brand­ing by un­scrupu­lous agents needs to be curbed and strictly reg­u­lated,” he says.

He goes on to ad­dress the is­sue of lack of co­or­di­nated ef­forts be­tween Civil Avi­a­tion and the tourism in­dus­try. “We want air ser­vices to be lib­er­alised,” he states. “The most cru­cial fac­tor for the ben­e­fit of the con­sumer is the cap­ping of air fare. It is a com­mon fact that dur­ing the peak sea­son, the air­lines charge a higher fare on fre­quently trav­elled routes. When the Govern­ment of In­dia is reg­u­lat­ing ho­tel tar­iff and taxi tar­iff, I fail to un­der­stand how they can not sta­bilise air tar­iff. There needs to be an up­per limit to the fares – peo­ple to­day are not trav­el­ling just for leisure.”

If one-win­dow clear­ance for tourism and hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try can be cre­ated, a lot would be achieved. This would

also en­cour­age in­vest­ment.

Sub­hash Goyal

Pres­i­dent, IATO

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.