The Kerala Travel Mart (KTM) Society has expressed serious concern over high rates of taxation under the new GST regime, saying it would stifle the tourism business in the country by making it unsustainable and drive away the foreign tourists to destinations other than India. A KTM delegation, led by President Abraham George along with Prof KV Thomas, MP, held meetings with Union Tourism Minister Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Tourism Secretary Rashmi Sharma, the GST Council Chairperson and officials of the Union Finance Ministry and GST Council, drawing their attention to the serious anomalies in the GST, which would throw the tourism industry into a major crisis. The delegation included Riaz Ahmed, past president of KTM and Jobin Jose, who represented the houseboat industry.
“The high incidences of taxes will make India uncompetitive when it comes to tourism as international tourists will skip the country as a destination. There is almost a 19 per cent tax hike for an Indian product after the implementation of GST. The Centre should address the issue urgently,” said KTM president Abraham George.
The industry has already been reeling under the impact of demonetisation and liquor ban on highways, he said, adding that implementation of GST has also started adversely impacting the business.
KTM has also shot off a memorandum to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, pointing out that that ‘the new GST structure is the highest in the world’ and is ‘seriously affecting the sustainability of tourism business.’ In the memorandum, the KTM president appealed to the Centre to reduce the tax for hotels from 28 per cent to 18 per cent, substantially bring down the tax on houseboats and declare tax holiday for inbound travellers. In the pre-GST regime, hotels were charging 19 per cent tax on rooms.