Make in India Week brought Maharashtra MoUs worth Rs 20,000 crore for tourism projects. Now, the state has released a new tourism policy with attractive tax benefits. The indications are that state’s planned 2017 “Visit Maharashtra” year will be more than just a slogan.
The new policy has district-level tourism plans and the state has been divided into five zones with Sindhudurg, Nagpur and Aurangabad classified as Special Tourism Districts. Tax-related incentives include Value Added Tax (VAT) reimbursement for the first time, ranging from 50 per cent VAT cut in Mumbai to 100 per cent in special tourism districts. Similar exemptions in electricity duty, luxury tax, entertainment tax, stamp duty and registration have been worked out. Additional FSI has been allowed on payment of premiums in areas where it is permissible.
“Investments in projects run or owned by MTDC will get total exemption from Non Agricultural (NA) tax. Post-construction licences have been cut down from 72 to 20,” Valsa Nair Singh, secretary, tourism and cultural affairs told The Hindu.
The new policy emphasises private-public partnership projects in adventure , agro, film , and caravan tourism. “We are also setting up a tourism development institute so that new professionals enter tourism industry. We will be training cab drivers, guides, shopkeepers as part of skill development,” Ms Singh said. A new tourism directorate will also be set up to boost promotions, tourism packages and incentives to showcase Maharashtra. “The policy also allows us to organise 25 road shows outside Maharashtra and 10 outside India,” she said.
Speaking of strategies in some areas, Ms Singh told The Hindu, “We have arrived at a cost for integrated tourism development of a district. Sindhudurg’s potential was valued at Rs 2300 crore, and Ratnagiri’s at Rs 650 crore. We have tried to take these as integrated tourism development projects, to the Asian Development Bank,” Ms Singh said.
To relise Aurangabad’s potential, Ms Singh said the state government was talking to the union tourism and civil aviation ministries about starting flights from Bodhgaya to Aurangabad. “We want to develop a Buddhist circuit. Bodhgaya gets a very large number of tourists who would be interested in visiting the Ajanta and Ellora frescoes,” she said.