The tourism ministry is planning to highlight the recent tax cut on room tariffs in promotional campaigns overseas to lure travellers ahead of the peak winter holiday season.
The India Convention Promotion Bureau (ICPB), which works closely with the tourism ministry on promoting India as a MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) destination, said it will also look at raising awareness around the announcement of lower GST (goods and services tax) rates last month.
On September 20, the GST Council tweaked taxes on several products and services, including hospitality. The GST rate for room tariffs of Rs 7,500 and above was reduced to 18% from 28%, while those between Rs 1,000 and Rs 7,500 would have to pay 12%. Hotels with tariffs of less than Rs 1,000 do not attract tax as per an earlier decision. Earlier, the slab of Rs 2,500-7,500 attracted 18% tax.
“We were waiting for the official notification which has come now. We will be launching marketing campaigns across markets on the move. It’s a very big step for boosting tourist numbers and we will provide this widespread publicity,” said Rupinder Brar, additional director general at the tourism ministry. “This was one of the main demands of the industry. We are very sure that this will boost tourist numbers,” she added.
Chander Mansharamani, vice-chairman of ICPB, said, “When an international conference comes to India, the accommodation is booked by overseas agencies. We have sent a circular to all our clients saying GST on hotel accommodation has (been) reduced to 18%. We are looking to work out something where we can convey this message further.”
Online travel aggregators (OTAs) said bookings for the coming quarter are looking up as hotels have begun factoring in the tax benefits for bookings done for stay after October 1.
“We started displaying hotel bookings with revised taxes from September 27 onwards. Over the past few days, we have seen an uptick in bookings for four- and five-star properties where the impact is fairly significant,” said Sharat Dhall, COO, B2C at Yatra.com. “The reduction of GST of 10% has definitely had an impact in terms of driving growth. We are witnessing an uptick in bookings for leisure destinations such as Goa and Rajasthan for the months of October, November and December.”
A spokesperson from MakeMyTrip said that with the revision in tax rates coming around the peak festive season, the company hopes to see a boost in tourist arrivals in Goa, Darjeeling, Jaipur and Gangtok—destinations that continue to remain favourites among domestic travellers.
Dipak Haksar, chief executive for ITC Hotels and WelcomHotel said ITC Hotels has implemented the new GST rates with effect from October 1, 2019 and has passed on all benefits to the consumers. “The rate reduction of GST will definitely result in an uptick in arrivals and hotel stays,” he said.
Sanjeev K Nayar, general manager at ITC WelcomHeritage Hotels said there has been an increase in the queries and also the bookings are getting materialised as well and that he is optimistic that this trend will now continue.
“We are very happy that a reasonable GST regime for hospitality comes at an opportune time as we are just getting into the high season and we would definitely see more traction and demand,” said Ankur Bhatia, executive director, Bird Group which runs Roseate Hotels & Resorts.
Balu Ramachandran, senior vice president at Cleartrip said any deduction in GST will be passed on and will ultimately benefit customers.