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States urged to evolve consensus to streamline transport tax

States urged to evolve consensus to streamline transport tax

Thiruvananthapuram: Union Minister of State (Independent charge) for Tourism & Culture Prahlad Singh Patel on Monday urged the states to evolve a consensus to streamline transport tax.

In his address as the chief guest at the Tourism Ministers conclave near here, Patel said while the Centre would extend support to development of tourism in all states, it is necessary to think about one nation, one tax regime.

"We should revisit our perception about GST. Tourists come not only to stay in hotels. We have to also think about one nation, one tax. There is also the issue of transport tax.

All states should evolve a consensus to streamline it," he said.

Such a conclave would help in learning and understanding from one another's experiences, the Minister said and praised Kerala's natural beauty and hospitality.

"We need to learn from Kerala. I don't envision Centre and states as separate entities," he said.

"Also, all the stakeholders should sit collectively to establish communication, be it a tour operator or a hotel", he said.

Patel said he had suggested during a recent meeting of Tourism Ministers in New Delhi that such a conclave should be held in Jammu and Kashmir within six months to deliberate on the tourism scenario there.

Stressing on the uniqueness of each state, he said the Centres approach is that tourism should develop in all parts of the country whether its Ladakh, Goa, Kerala or North-East.

"I want to emphasise that one particular paradigm cant be applicable for all the states.  The uniqueness of each and every state has to be leveraged to promote tourism," he said.

Describing e-visa as a revolutionary step, Patel said the Centre has taken some steps to streamline it and make it more tourist-friendly.

Recently, some Himalayan states had complained that there were no skiing facilities there. "The matter was looked into. The Prime Minister and the Home Minister intervened and 137 Himalayan peaks were opened for skiing," the Minister said.

Noting that all the states have distinct attributes to attract tourists, Patel said, "Kerala does not have high mountain peaks but it does not mean that it lacks in adventure sports. It has rafting and boat racing," he said.

"There can be a difference in sports but not in risk.We will have to ensure guarantee for safety through manpower, training centres and instrumental support. We need to sit together and discuss the issues relating to tourism and hospitality industry," he added.

In his inaugural address, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan stressed the urgent need for rationalisation of taxes in the tourism and hospitality industry and ensuring affordable airfare for promoting these sectors.

Though tourism in the country had high growth potential, removal of impediments like high tax rates was essential to consolidate Indias position as a prime global destination, he said.

"Tourism industry is faced with some serious challenges. These include high tax rates, lack of sufficient air connectivity and disparity in inter-state taxes.  There is also an urgent need to rationalise taxes across all states and establish a mechanism to address the frequent hike in airfare," he added.

The deliberations at the meet focused on three major topics: Best practices in Sustainable Tourism, Challenges faced by Tourism Industry and Branding and Promotion of State Tourism Boards.'

Tourism Ministers of Bihar, Karnataka and Odisha were among those who participated in the conclave.

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