As traditional, the expectations have been fairly excessive within the journey and tourism business when the GST Council met for 2 days in Chandigarh on June 28 and 29. The consequence, once more, as traditional, was on the anticipated strains – frustration for a big part, and marginal aid for some.
The solely tangible aid for the journey and tourism sector got here within the type of a clarification being provided by the Council on the calculation of the tax on the composite tour packages bought by Indian tour operators to international purchasers which covers India and different international locations of the area .
Clearing the anomaly, the GST Council mentioned that for providers offered by an Indian tour operator to a international resident for a tour partially in India and partially outdoors India, the tax will likely be proportionate to the tour performed in India for such international vacationers, with the situation that the concession doesn’t exceed half of the tour length.
Although many different crucial solutions associated to the ‘cascading of taxes’ on the tour operators have been missed by the Council, the inbound tour operators affiliation, Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) welcomed the choice of the GST Council.
Another contentious proposal of the GST Council was to introduce 12 per cent GST on lodging items as much as INR 1,000 room tariff, a class which, until now, had zero GST.
The GST Council has additionally determined to restrict the exemption on tax on transport of passengers by air to and from the North East States and Bagdogra to solely the economic system class passengers.
The proposal to impose 12 per cent GST on lodging items sub INR 1000 tariff has additionally evoked blended response. While the mainstream business and business associations welcomed the transfer, the micro and small hoteliers have criticized the choice.
“Bringing tariffs on hotel rooms below INR 1000 under the tax ambit was needed. A large inventory of unorganized and unlicensed hotels in this category was posing a problem to both the government and the hospitality industry. Now all the rooms across categories come within the sweep of taxation. Also, since the amount is within INR 1000, the 12 per cent GST cap should not affect travel demand,” mentioned Pradeep Shetty, Joint Secretary, FHRAI.
However, the micro and small visitor householders anticipate a big impact on the demand aspect due to the choice. “There are millions of travelers who try to explore places on a shoestring budget. This rate hike will adversely impact and unsettle their budgets,” mentioned Sandeep Khandelwal, President of Delhi Hotel & Restaurant Owners Association (DHROA).
Ashraf Ali, President of Budget Hotel Association, Mumbai, additionally expressed the identical concern. It’s going to harm the small hoteliers in addition to the price range vacationers within the nation adversely, he mentioned.
The Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) additionally expressed “frustration” on the new proposals of the GST Council. The Association in an announcement criticized the proposals to hike the charges at a time the journey and tourism business has simply began restoration and revival after two years of unprecedented disaster.
In a letter to the Finance Minister, TAAI President Jyoti Mayal mentioned that it was irritating to see the speed hike when the federal government ought to have supported with discount of tax charges to assist the journey and tourism sector. “Imposing 12 per cent GST on hotels priced below INR 1000 is the biggest jolt to both the travel and hospitality industry. Hospitality offered below INR 1000 drives the system and an increase at that level will take employment and business opportunities from many,” she said.
TAAI is also peeved at the way the GST Council has proposed an 18 per cent GST on check payments. Check is still a preferred payment instrument in Tier II and III cities in the country, and imposing 18 per cent GST on such payments might “push travelers to move away from registered and legitimate agents to illegal business operators,” says Jay Bhatia, Vice President , TAAI.
Expressing disappointment with the GST Council decisions about the travel and tourism sector, Ashish Gupta, Acting CEO, Federation of Association of Indian Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH), the umbrella body of trade associations, said that matters which were critical to the survival, as well as competitiveness of the sector, were not considered by the Council. The current GST rate of 5 percent without set-offs implies that tour operators have an inbuilt margin of around 28 per cent in every package they sell. Considering it as a value addition, the industry asked it to be brought down to 1.5 to 1.8 percent, he said.
Similarly, the industry also wanted the GST on room tariffs to be at a uniform rate of 12 per cent, which also didn’t find favor with the government and the GST Council. Gupta said that the industry federation has also lobbied for restaurants to be delinked from the hotels and given the option to choose 5 percent without set off, and 12 per cent with set off, under the GST system.
“We will continue to pursue our case with the fitment committees of the Council on all these issues,” he mentioned.