TTAG opposes move to hike registration fees

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Panaji: The Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), on Tuesday, said it opposes any hike in registration fees for hotels and providers of tourism-related services, planned by the government during the ongoing pandemic crisis.

Objecting to the draft Goa Registration of Tourist Trade (Amendment) Rules, 2020, that proposes across the board increase in registration fees for all hospitality industry stakeholders, Nilesh Shah, president of TTAG, said that the government must differ the hike by at least a year by which time the tourism scenario in the state is expected to improve.

TTAG, on Monday, submitted a memorandum to the government objecting to the draft rules and offered suggestions for revival of tourism in the state. 

Shah said that the new slabs of fees proposed by the government are too steep as it increases registration fee by as much as 20 per cent for certain categories of hotels.

“While we are talking about simplifying the rules, the government in fact is planning to raise the registration fees to generate income,” he said.  The president of the tourism trade body added that the state must try to increase revenues through GST and income tax rather than hiking registration fees or levying charges.

The TTAG memorandum also reiterated the demand for excise waiver since the industry is closed for almost six months and all hotels are yet to open up full-fledged.  A total of 486 hotels in the state have been granted permission to open.

TTAG pointed out that although lockdown restrictions on hotels in the state have been eased from June 2, there is no positive gesture from the government to encourage closed hotels to restart their business. 

Citing the example of Kerala government that has given the interest subvention on bank loans taken by all hospitality stakeholders to tide over the pandemic crisis, TTAG suggested a similar scheme with a 4 per cent interest subvention.

 “Evaluation of the loans must be by the banks and the state can pay for the interest subvention from the tourism budget that anyway is not being utilised during the pandemic,” suggested TTAG.

The tourism body has also asked for all segments of the industry – the river cruises, swimming pools, casinos – to restart operations for tourist footfall to increase.  The memorandum has also asked the government to give charter flights the permission to land in the state.

According to TTAG, there was a slight improvement in the arrival of tourists to the state in the month of August.

Tourism dept issues revised protocol

Panaji: The department of tourism, on Tuesday, issued a revised protocol for entry of tourists to the state, hotels providing accommodation, tour operators, transport operators and tourist guides. 

In line with the Ministry of Home Affairs for phased reopening under Unlock 4.0, the protocol says that there will be no restrictions on inter-state movement of people and no separate permission is required for movement.

As per the new protocol effective from September 14, pre-booking of accommodation is necessary in an approved hotel, tourist will be subject to basic screening, in case the tourist carries a COVID negative certificate they will be allowed to move into the accommodation or else they have to undergo testing and go for isolation until the test results arrive.  Further, tourists have to fill out a self-declaration form at the hotel for contact tracing (if necessary) .