Industry tag remains only in paper for Kerala tourism sector

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Kochi: The tourism sector is yet to get the benefits granted to industries even 35 years after getting the industry status.

The State government issued an order according industry status to the sector when K Karunakaran temporarily held the tourism portfolio in 1986. Accordingly, the sector was to get the benefits extended to industries, such as excluding hotel building from one-time tax, providing power connection charging industrial rate instead of commercial rates, etc.

Though T Sivadasa Menon, the Minister of Power in the LDF government in 1987 provided power to hotels on industrial rates, the order was later repealed.

Other benefits were also denied due to the opposition by the departments of finance, power and revenue. The sector does not get the loan benefits that the industries enjoy. A demand has been raised to grant tourism initiatives the benefits provided to small-scale industries.

Such tourism initiatives generate more employment opportunities and tax revenue to the State than small-scale industries, it has been pointed out.

T Balakrishnan, former additional secretary and the tourism secretary in 1986, said a single order extending the Central benefits granted to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) to tourism will help the sector. Kashmir was then (in the 1980s) India's leading tourism centre and it enjoyed industrial status and related benefits, he said. With the law and order situation affecting Kashmir, Kerala shot up to the number one slot in India's tourism map, but not much has been done to further boost the sector.

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