Parliamentary Committee favours tax sops for limited period for developing tourism in J&K

New Delhi: A Parliamentary Committee has favoured a policy wherein tourism in militancy-hit Jammu and Kashmir can be supported and developed by giving tax sops for a given time period and “leaned off slowly”.

In this context, the Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture asked the Union Ministry of Tourism to initiate a dialogue with the Finance Ministry.

The Committee also recommended that implementation of GST on tourism-related activities in the state “must be reconsidered” and “done in a cautious and phased manner in order to ensure that the delicate state of tourism” in the state is not adversely affected.

Underlining that the “sensitive nature” of the state must be taken into consideration during development of tourism there, it said the implementation of GST on tourism in the state would have “manifold effects, mostly negative, on the economy of the region.”

The Committee said it was informed by the stakeholders that sourcing of products and material is an issue.

“Unlike other states, the 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,” it said in a report tabled in Parliament recently.

Most wholesale traders insist on payment in cash which is a major issue as the support from the government must be processed via the Public Financial Management System (PFMS) payment system which insists on digital transactions.

The Committee said it had observed during its visit to Jammu and Kashmir that the state requires further input in terms of improving upon tourist facilities in the state.

It recommended that the Union Ministry of Tourism should extend financial support to the government of Jammu and Kashmir to restart various projects.

“Creation of adequate and suitable infrastructure in terms of accommodation, transport, communication links, etc and other essential amenities are the foundation for the success of tourism in the state,” the Committee said.

It recommended that the state government must put in place a system to ensure that the tourist amenities like safe drinking water stations, clean and hygienic washrooms, rest stop, car stops, etc, once operational, are well maintained and at par with global standards.

“The Committee recommends that in order to improve the maintenance of existing tourist destinations, adoption/management/sponsorship programmes should be promoted so as to create a sense of ownership in the minds of locals and corporate alike, for monuments, religious sites and tourist destinations,” the report said.

It felt that the facilities may “definitely attract more tourists while serving to narrate the story of Kashmir.”

With regard to safety and security, it said that during the visit of the Committee members to Srinagar, it was observed that the situation was “more peaceful than what was reported in the news and media”.

The Committee felt that this matter “must be broached with caution as it involves issues of national security”.