RESOLUTIONS ADOPTED AT THE 49 th FHRAI ANNUAL CONVENTION IN JAIPUR.
1. To facilitate the massive investment which is required to bridge the serious shortfall in the availability of hotel rooms in the budget & mid-market segment, FHRAI recommends that the minimum project cost mandated for inclusion of hotels in the RBI's Infrastructure Lending norms, should be reduced from Rupees 200 crore to a threshold of Rupees 20 crore, so that hotels across diverse categories and market positioning become eligible to access lower cost long-term finance.
2. FHRAI calls for the early nationwide introduction of a unified Goods & Services Tax (GST), which should subsume all state and central indirect tax levies. In order for India to be competitive as a tourist destination vis-a-vis our neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia, it is imperative that GST should be applicable on the hospitality sector at a concessional rate not exceeding 8%.
Till implementation of the GST regime, hotel accommodation and restaurants must be included in the Negative List for Service Tax.
3. The scarcity and exorbitant cost of land in cities is a major impediment for the hotel industry. FHRAI recommends that the Government should earmark suitable land parcels as 'hospitality development sites', which instead of outright auction, are offered to promoters on long-term graded lease.
We further request that higher FSI/ FAR and relaxed parking norms be permitted for hotels so as to make projects financially feasible.
In areas which have been identified as part of the upcoming integrated tourist circuits, surplus land available with various Government agencies, should be utilised for construction of affordable tourist accommodation under the PPP model.
4. India is fortunate to be endowed with a vast coastline of 7500 kms. A part of this strategic natural resource must be sustainably leveraged to promote coastal and beach tourism, which as per the UNWTO is the dominant market segment in global tourism.
Therefore, we recommend that our rigid CRZ norms should be liberalised in accordance with the recommendations of the M.S. Swaminathan Committee, so that identified coastal stretches can be developed as special tourism zones and new beachfront hotels and resorts can be set up.
5. FHRAI demands that State Governments must not prescribe higher differential rates of minimum wages, property tax, license fee etc for star hotels.
This anomalous policy unduly penalises those hotels who have voluntarily opted for classification and thereby undermines the efforts to benchmark India's tourist accommodation infrastructure to contemporary global standards.
6. Sustenance of our heritage, built, natural and tangible, is vital to the sustenance of Tourism in India. About 80% of our Heritage Hotels are located in rural and environmentally sensitive areas, where there are inherent constraints on account of paucity of skilled manpower as well as lack of primary infrastructure, for instance, power, water, sewerage, transportation etc, which leads to higher operating costs.
As such to be economically viable, these hotels require differentiated support and impetus from the Government by way of fiscal concessions, tax incentives and subsidies. In many cities, several Heritage Buildings are presently occupied as government offices, which can instead be restored and turned into productive tourism assets.
It is necessary to formulate a comprehensive National Policy to support Heritage Hotels and promote Heritage Tourism in the country.
To this end, FHRAI and IHHA will form a joint Committee to pursue this cause with the Central Government.
7. India's tourism sector offers infinite opportunities for self - entrepreneurship which can transform our youth from being job-seekers to becoming job-creators.
In this regard, we urge the Central Government to institute a dedicated National Tourism Entrepreneurship Fund, which will provide start-up risk capital and soft loans to innovative hospitality entrepreneurs.
8. We applaud the Government's firm commitment to operationalise the ETA/ E-Visa facility for international tourists.
FHRAI requests that the citizens of a majority of those countries which constitute the top 15 source markets for FTAs in India should be included within the first phase of this scheme's launch.
9 operationalise the ETA/ E-Visa facility for international tourists. . To coincide with the launch of the landmark E-Visa initiative, FHRAI suggests that 2015 be celebrated as "Visit India Year", featuring food festivals, cultural extravaganzas and myriad experiential activities for tourists, across the country, throughout the year.
As a further incentive service tax exemption & VAT refunds should be extended to foreign tourists visiting India in 2015.
10. FHRAI pledges its support for the Prime Minister's ambitious Clean India Mission.
The hospitality industry will volunteer its expertise and resources for the success of this noble national endeavour.
11. We express complete solidarity with our fellow citizens in Jammu & Kashmir and are resolutely committed to assist the state's hospitality and tourism sector in overcoming the adverse impact of the unprecedented natural calamity in the region.