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Service tax waiver likely for eco tourism
January, 05th 2007

The focus of the government seems to be on eco-friendly tourism. The government is considering various fiscal and policy measures to promote ecological and adventure tourism in the country including formulating uniform ecological guidelines to conserve nature and waiver of service tax charged on adventure tours.

Such measures have been proposed by the tourism ministry in the wake of the potential of nature and adventure tourism in India. Since adventure and wildlife tours operate in far-flung regions in the country, a more equitable distribution of the economic benefits of tourism is ensured, a government source said.

Also, adventure tourism is in the lean months of the culture tourism which can make India a round the world destination. To make the wildlife experience in national parks and sanctuaries more ecologically friendly, the ministry has proposed that parks be equipped with informative films, clean amenities and better managerial measures with focus on conservation.

It has been suggested that the exercise be carried out in tandem with the state ministries of environment and forests. With regard to safety and ecological guidelines, the government is considering greater synergy between the centre and states for creating uniform safety and ecological rules.

At present there such regulations are different for every state. Measures for garbage disposal at the state level and building guidelines incorporating use of local materials have also been suggested. The latter is in line with the view that the use of indigenous building material will reflect the local culture.

The proposal also brings with it good news for trekkers as the government is considering opening up more routes with simplified application procedures for which a harmonies procedure could be laid down by the Indian Mountaineering Foundation(IMF).

The government may also do away with the condition of a minimum of four persons travelling together in remote areas like Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh. The ministry has also suggested that requisite clearances for organising overseas mountaineering expeditions to India be expedited and that the procedures involved be simplified.

To boost adventure tourism the ministry has suggested that recognised adventure tour operators could be allowed every year to import duty free equipment up to 20% of their annual turnover. Most adventure equipment in the country used for tourism purposes is imported.

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