1. INDIA STANDS AS AN OVERPRICED DESTINATION
destination, India is quite an expensive country especially, in comparison to
other competing destinations. The major
reason being the tax component which is between 20 – 25% of the tourist package
cost. All other leading tourist
destinations have effective rate of tax between 5 – 8% only. Coupled with this
is the airfare to India from tourist generating countries which is always
expensive in comparison to equidistant tourist destinations.
2. RATIONALIZATION OF ROAD TAXES
of journeys is made by surface transport in India and interstate taxes are
involved. There is no rationalized road tax regime. Each state following their
own criteria which varies from 10-40 %. This needs to be looked into on a top
priority. Also to have a seamless travel with single point tax collection
system should be evolved. Otherwise this puts tourists in lot of inconvenience
and wastage of time when the tour operators’ representative had to run around
to get the required permit.
3. TOUR OPERATORS BE GIVEN THE BENEFIT OF
operators be given the benefit of exporters on the basis of foreign exchange
earnings and exempted from service tax. We have been pleading since two decades
for this benefit which was totally ignored by the government. To revive
industry, this aspect should be given a top priority.
benefit of 80 HHD should be restored for next 5 years so that the sagging
tourism industry can be boosted. Under Section 80 HHD of Income Tax Act, tour
operators had the benefit of reinvesting 50% of their foreign exchange earnings
in Infrastructure and tourism promotion business that boosted tourism in a positive
manner. (But this stands withdrawn).
all international portals making bookings online do not pay any service tax as
their offices are not based in India thus they are not liable to pay the
service tax. This has dented our business in a big way and we are losing
business to these online business operators.
4. RATIONALIZATION OF STATE LUXURY TAX
of the major tax components on the package tours is luxury tax being charged on
the hotel room rent. This is being levied by the State Governments. However,
the each state has different policy and charging luxury tax from 5% to 20%.
Also some of the states are charging luxury tax on the declared printed tariff
and some states are charging luxury tax on the actual room rent paid. This
should be rationalized to make tourist packages competitive with our
neighboring countries and should be fixed to maximum 5% and should be charged
on the actual tariff. The recent example
is of luxury tax in Delhi which was earlier 10% on the published tariff and has
been increased to 15% on the published tariff.
We wrote to the Chief Minister of Delhi but nothing could come out.
of the states are charging luxury tax on the declared printed tariff and some
states are charging luxury tax on the actual room rent paid. This should be
rationalized to make tourist packages competitive with our neighboring
countries and should be fixed to maximum 5% and should be charged on the actual
tariff. The recent example is of luxury tax
in Delhi which was earlier 10% on the published tariff and has been increased
to 15% on the published tariff. We wrote
to the Chief Minister of Delhi but nothing could come out.
5. DUAL TARIFF ON LUXURY TRAINS
on paper, the dual tariff has been withdrawn but our luxury tourist trains in
India run by the state governments and IRCTC have their tariff in Dollars which
is detrimental to the interest of tourists as also tour operators. Not only, in
the process, the tourist pays a lot more, but also, the foreign tour operators
tend to lose their profits. All other
tourist products in India are sold in local currency. Similarly, the tariff for luxury trains
should also be in Indian Rupees. Because of this luxury train business has gone
down as reported in the press also.
6. E-TOURIST VISA (ETV) NEED AMENDMENTS LIKE
MULTIPLE ENTRY, INCREASE IN DURATION OF STAY, APPLICATION AND BIO METRIC
PROCESS BE ABOLISHED FOR NORMAL VISA
the e Tourist Visa has been introduced and made valid for 150 countries till
date, the impact is negligible as there is lot of bottleneck areas which makes
this facility not tourist friendly. Ultimate result is unproductive. For the
tourists to make full use of this facility, action of the following is needed
urgently or we miss the train.
Under e-Tourist Visa, double/multiple entry visa be allowed so that
members selling combined packages of India, Nepal, Sri Lanka etc. can also ask
their clients to apply for e-Tourist Visa. Presently all such tourists are
avoiding India due to constraint of single entry. The duration for Multiple or
double entry visa should be extendable to 45 to 60 days and visa fee may be
charged on pro-rata basis in case if it is necessary to increase. This will
increase international tourist arrival to our country.
ii) For long haul traffic, applicants should be
allowed to apply for e-Tourist Visa at least 90 to 180 days’ in advance instead of 30 day, where ever
possible as foreign tourists want to finalize their travel well in advance and
buy the best priced air tickets before hand not at last minute.
There is no Biometric facility available at any of the Indian Ports
where big cruise ships are coming. Due to the fact India is losing overland
tourists visits and just day's excursions are conducted. If the facility of Biometric can be provided
at major ports of India then India can get the benefits of extra foreign
exchange earnings with longer duration of tourists spending more time in India
and fly out from other cities to catch the Cruise in next country. Therefore,
at all major ports where cruise ships are coming with full of tourists,
facility of Biometric should be made available. This will help get ETVOA for
the cruise passengers also.
The other issue which international tourists are facing is Biometric
process for the normal tourist visa.
This is creating lots of problems for the tourists as they need to spend
extra time and money especially in big countries where Indian
Embassies/Consulates are located at distant places. They have to pay for travel
and hotel accommodation to do biometric process. This process discourages the
tourists to select India as a holiday destination. It is requested that all Tourist Visa whether
e-Tourist Visa or normal multiple entry visa, should have biometrics upon
arrival at International airports in India only.
Lot of Buddhist Tourists visit our country from countries like Sri
Lanka, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam etc. For those countries and all SAARC countries,
Visa fee should not be more than 20 USD for e-Tourist Visa or it should be on
reciprocal basis. In Sri Lanka for E-Visa, it is 15 USD and for Visa on Arrival
it is 25 USD.
7. OVERSEAS MARKETING
marketing of India Tourism overseas remained totally negligible. Hardly India
was visible in global markets through media/electronic campaigns. India tourism
needs to rebrand the campaign to match with the new trends and the new market
specific requirements and in the language of the country being focused. It
should be more informative and how the bookings can be made rather than
8. APPOINTMENT OF PR AGENCIES AND ITMR
was a proposal to have PR agencies/India Tourism Marketing Representatives
overseas but what is latest position in this regard is known to the trade.
Nearly there is a gap of one year, when this was initiated but matter is still
pending for a positive decision.
9. OVERSEAS ROAD SHOWS – PR AGENCY CHARGES TO
BE COVERED BY THE MINISTRY OF TOURISM, GOVT. OF INDIA
of the most important issues is participation of our members in the road shows
being organized in coordination with the Ministry of Tourism Govt. of India and
India Tourism offices overseas. It is observed that members have lost their
interest in participating in road shows because they have to share the 50% cost
of the PR agency charges which was not there prior to 2013 and the entire local
responsibility of expenses was of concerned India Tourism offices and members
who were going need to make arrangements for their air travel, stay, local
travel, promotional material. Now with this new system of members sharing the
PR agencies charges, this has become cost prohibitive for the members and need
to be reversed and concerned India Tourism office should bear the PR agency cost.
Our members invest money and time on this exercise therefore the cost of PR
agency must be borne by India Tourism offices.
10. TOURISM PROMOTION MATERIAL
material in our overseas offices are not available. Not even a good 5 – 8
minutes India Destination DVD. Whereas, our competitive countries have good
literature supply regular press release, with solid PR agency, display
materials, brochures, photographs CD/DVDs, films given to tour operators to
boost India holiday destination.
11. VACANT POSTS IN OVERSEAS OFFICE
overseas offices remained vacant for nearly three years. That in turn did not
help us to hold promotions in the market and we lack visibility. Even the
foreign tour operators did not feel to visit our India tourism offices when
they find there is no head in the office to give an immediate decision and like
to promote a destination which are supportive to overseas tour operators for
brochure support, joint promotions, for media visits, educational tours
12. CRISIS MANAGEMENT POLICY
is no crisis management team to combat any negative publicity globally or by
taking action against advisories issued by foreign governments and press
releases to counteract those negative reporting or a system of giving a letter
from the Minister or Secretary re-assuring the industry that India back in
business and everything is normal, which in turn can be used by the tour
operators to create confidence and assure that India is a Safe Destination and
India Means Business. This is a normal practice which is not followed in India.
Incidentally Negative publicity in the international press regarding the safety
& security of women tourist is a major point of concern for the tourist to
decide against visiting India. The
Government is making efforts on this issue, however, it is also important to be
proactive and counter such news in the international media. Single women
traveler are now avoiding India and they form about 15 % of overall traffic to
13. LACK OF GENERAL HYGEINE
our Prime Minister is very much concerned about the Clean India and started
Clean India Campaign and for this Swacch Bharat Cess was introduced but the
actual impact is not visible. The garbage on the roads in India especially near
the monuments and tourist attractions puts off the tourist. Unfortunately,
pictures about them have been reported by the Press in many countries over the
last decades. Foreign tourists are very
concerned about the hygiene & cleanliness and, therefore, decide against
travelling to India.
14. DOMESTIC AIRLINES TARIFF
domestic airlines hardly play their role as facilitators for tourism
sector. Very little effort has been made
by them to connect tourist destinations properly. Because of scarce availability, lot of time
in back tracking is wasted by the tourist.
Moreover, during peak season, the airlines tend to take undue advantage
and charge 2 – 3 times the normal airfare.
15. BAGGAGE ALLOWANCE ON DOMESTIC SECTORS
international flights, 23-30 kgs is the baggage allowance per passenger which
has been reduced to 15 kgs by the domestic airlines, creating lot of problems
for the tourist. Every time they check in, they are asked to either pay excess
baggage charge or take out stuff from their check in baggage. Foreign tourists
do not feel happy in doing this. Tourist is compelled not to do shopping in
India. Thus, we lose additional source of earning foreign exchange.
16. SHORTAGE OF LANGUAGE SPEAKING GUIDES
of guides across the country is not commensurate with the requirement
especially the language guides. Barring few places, they are hardly
available. Guides’ Training Programmes
must be conducted in all regions and specifically at tourist centres focusing not
only on English language but various important international languages as well.
17. ENTRY OF REGIONAL LEVEL GUIDES
Guide Policy of Archaeological Survey of India need immediate revision. IATO is
discussing with Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Culture as per High Court
18. PROMOTION OF BUDDHIST CIRCUIT
Buddhist Circuit has immense potential but India has not reaped its
benefits. The number of visitors
attracted by China to their artificially created Buddhist sites are far greater
than ours. Macro level planning of the entire Buddhist Circuit is the need of
the hour. We should have proper rail,
road & air connectivity linking all the sites. An international standard
train must operate on circular route connecting all sites. We do not have air
connectivity, therefore, there is no demand visible. But, due to the absence of this facility, the
affluent Buddhist Tourists are giving a pass to India. Proper roads with
mid-way facilities is yet another must. At least 4-Star Hotels, if not 5-Stars,
should be available at all Buddhist centres. The Gaya International airport
should be opened to Chartered & Scheduled flights without restrictions. As
we were never pro-actively involved in the promotion of Buddhist Sector,
therefore, we have actually turned away lot many good promoters and
investors. We will have to go
pro-actively to convince people to consider this opportunity afresh.
0% GST ON TOURISM INDUSTRY
may be implemented soon. We have to
ensure tourism activities remain at the lower rate. The transactions in foreign exchange should
attract 0% GST only, to make India competitive globally.
20. ISSUES WITH THE RAILWAYS:-
Earlier our tour operator/travel agent members were given the license to
work as authorized Rail Ticketing Agent of Indian Railways and were doing
substantial amount of rail booking for their clients including tourists from
overseas. Presently renewal of RTA
license has been stopped by the railways. RTAs were bookings for foreign
clients months in advance to avoid any inconvenience to them upon arrival in
India. This must be reconsidered and licence be renewed for Rail Ticketing
Group Tourist booking facility like airlines group booking system should
be in place and our members should be able to make group bookings on behalf of
their foreign tourists under Foreign Quota.
Number of seats in Foreign Quota should be increased so that our members
can reserve seats for them.
iv) A separate designated parking area for Tourist
Vehicles and tourist coaches should be provided at all the major station,
including all metros and places of tourist interests.
To allocate a separate booking window as Nodal point for IATO members
and IATO members who are recognized by Ministry of Tourism be allowed to act as
representatives to serve the foreign tourists and groups.
IATO members should be allowed Online Booking facility and authorized to
open their email account thru IRCTC portal by having similar train ticket
booking facility of 0800 hours onwards.
Members of IATO should be facilitated with issuance of special pass to
serve foreign clients for arrival and departure at the platforms just like the
airport authority entry pass
Special insurance coverage for the foreign tourists as per International
standards to cover any mishap during their journey.
21. AIRT CHARTER OPERTIONS POLICY
operation is affected due to heavy charges by the Airport Authority of India
for landing of aircraft and charter operators have stopped charter operations
to Goa and other places. A liberalized policy should be in place for Charter
Operations and not last minutes announcements during seasons.
22. CLOSING OF RAFTING CAMPS ON THE GANGA
Greet Tribunal has closed down all
rafting camps on the Ganga. Rafting camps are most eco-friendly and do not use
electricity or flush toilets unlike many local dhabas on the roadside which are
the main polluting units. This is badly effecting the adventure tourism
business in our country. This may please
be taken up on an urgent basis.
23. PROMOTION OF AGRICULTURE TOURISM
the last l0-15 years, the Department of Agricultural Research & Education,
Ministry of Agriculture was giving permission for these kind of visits by the
farmers/tour operators connected with agriculture tours especially from Europe,
America and Australia and they were being charged US$ 50 per person per
university/institute visit and Rs. 3000 for coach parking.
September last year, the Department of Agricultural Research & Education,
Ministry of Agriculture stopped giving permissions and advised our tour
operators that all such requests should come through the Indian Embassy/High
Commission overseas. We tried that
method also but as rightly said by our Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra
Modi ji, nothing moves through Indian Embassies/High Commissions abroad and the
resulted affect was that Foreign Tour Operators virtually stopped promoting
Agricultural Tours to India.
practice of permissions by the Agricultural Research & Education, Ministry
of Agriculture, Govt. of India be re-instated. This can at least be done for
the Tour Operators, who are recognized and approved by the Ministry of Tourism,
Govt. of India.