Goa’s travel industry unhappy with budget

Panaji, March 17 (IANS) Goa’s travel and tourism industry on Thursday said it was “not happy” with the budget presented by Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar.

The industry said it has not been given any state support despite the fact that tourism was Goa’s only major industry, especially in view of prolonged closure of mining activity.

“I am not happy with the budget. Tourism is not given the importance it deserves. Tourism is now the No.1 industry in Goa after the demise of mining. We need more support than given in the new budget. I did not see any focus on development of tourism,” Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) president Francisco de Braganca said on Thursday.

In a statement, de Braganca expressed disappointment over the fact that Rs.50 crore had been allotted for tourism promotion and infrastructure without any sense of clarity or break-up, fearing that such allocations could be misused for wasteful roadshows.

“Budgetary provision for tourism promotion at Rs.50 crore and tourism infrastructure at Rs.80 crore has no break-up of the purposes these funds will be utilised.

“In the absence of details, it is difficult to comment specifically. But we can only hope that the promotional expenditure is channelised towards promotional support to the international tour operators and not only for roadshows etc. as in the past,” he said.

He also expressed surprise that there was no mention in the budget about the completion of the Tourism Master Plan or constitution of a Tourism Board without which all the infrastructure expenditure will be unplanned and may not help in tourism promotion.

De Braganca also said the budget should have tried to plug the tax leakage from the around 36,000 unregistered rooms in the state, known for low budget tourism, which he said would have boosted state revenue.

“I could not see any provision for convention centres which are a necessity for the growth of the MICE market. There are more than 36,000 unregistered rooms in Goa which do not pay any taxes. Nothing has been done to plug these leakages and bring the entire hospitality industry under the tax bracket as a result of which the legitimate industry continues to bear the brunt of the taxation burden,” he said.

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