Parl Panel calls upon Centre to reconsider GST on tourism in J&K

‘Take steps to counter negative publicity’

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, Dec 24: In a significant observation, a high-level Parliamentary Committee has called upon the Central Government to reconsider implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) on tourism-related activities in Jammu and Kashmir as it was having negative impact. The Panel has also voiced concern over negative publicity of the State in other parts of the country due to militancy, which was keeping the tourists away from the State.
In its report to the Parliament, the Committee comprising senior Parliamentarians, has listed number of reasons for declining rush of tourists to Jammu and Kashmir especially the Valley and suggested certain measure which the Central and State Governments can take to revive tourist industry, which was passing through critical phase.
The Parliamentary Committee noted that the Goods and Services Tax has had a “negative” effect on tourism in Jammu and Kashmir and called upon the Central Government to reconsider the indirect tax regime on tourism-related activities in the State to give boost to tourism.
Quoting stakeholders, the Parliamentary Panel pointed out that sourcing of products and materials is an issue in the State.
“Unlike other States, residents of Jammu and Kashmir and its business owners spend huge amounts of money on procuring essentials, most of which have to be flown in, which increases their capital expenditure,” the Committee said.
It added that the sensitive nature of Jammu and Kashmir must be taken into consideration during the development of tourism in the region. The implementation of GST on tourism in the region will have manifold effects, mostly negative on its economy,” the Committee said and suggested that implementation of the Goods and Services Tax should be re-considered in the State and tourism-related activity, which will be of great help in promotion of tourism and its revival.
The Parliamentary Panel said small business owners of small-scale hotels, bed and breakfasts and home stays cannot list their properties on various travel intermediary websites as there is a levy of 18 per cent of GST, which cuts across the little profit they make, thus, making their venture “unsustainable”.
“In this regard, the Committee recommends that the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) on tourism-related activities in the State must be reconsidered. It must be done in a cautious and phased manner in order to ensure that the delicate State of tourism in the region is not adversely affected,” the Panel said, adding the Ministry of Tourism must initiate dialogue with the Finance Ministry in this regard.
The GST was implemented in Jammu and Kashmir just a month after it was imposed in other parts of the State. Initially, there had been some concerned over implementation of the GST in the State but later the PDP-BJP Government had implemented it.
The Parliamentary Committee has also expressed worry over the “negative publicity” which it cited as a major hindrance to increasing footfall in the region. It noted that certain incidents are blown out of proportion, which keeps the tourists away from the State and both Central and State Governments should take steps to overcome the problem.
“This perception overshadows the true narrative of the region as not all parts of the State are in conflict or affected by it,” it remarked.
The Panel also recommended that the Tourism Ministry organize its own publicity campaign in order to remove the negative impression of the State which is based on incorrect facts.
The Tourism Ministry should also involve the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the External Affairs Ministry for the removal of advisories imposed by various countries against travel to Jammu and Kashmir, the Parliamentary panel added.
It may be mentioned here that some countries have issued advisories to their citizens against visiting Kashmir, which has also affected foreign tourism in the State besides impacting the tourists within the country.