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Panel nudge on tourism

Guwahati, Oct. 10: There is a dearth of basic facilities for tourists in the Northeast despite adequate funding, a parliamentary standing committee on transport, tourism and culture has observed.

An action taken report prepared by the committee and placed in Parliament recently expresses concern that even projects sanctioned by the Union ministry of tourism are not getting good response.

The report says the tourism ministry has released assistance ranging from 15-19 per cent of its total budget, which is well above the mandatory provision of 10 per cent, to the northeastern state-s in the past three years. While this has helped in the creation of infrastructure and other facilities, “there remai-ns a lot to be done in terms of hotels and connectivity”, it adds.

“The facilities are not adequate to meet the requirements of increased number of tourists. With no five-star hotels in the region, it is resulting in a loss of revenue as high-end tourists are not turning up,” it says.

Sources said five-star hotels would come up in Guwahati in the next few years.

The committee states that it is time to augment tourist facilities in the region and for this the ministry of tourism should review its schemes and seek active participation from states to get more projects implemented. It emphasises that since tourism is the main source of livelihood in the Northeast, the ministry should provide all support to develop this sector.

The committee notes that the response to the scheme for capital subsidy of 30 per cent for hotels (not below two-star category) launched by the Centre with effect from April 1, 2008 has not achieved the desired results although the region has the potential (of setting up two-star category hotels).

It observes that most of the states are not geared up for conventional tourism in respect of accommodation. “They do not have good and affordable accommodation, both in terms of numbers as well as quality. This was evident from field trips to these states. There is no five-star hotel in the region till date,” it says.

The committee has asked the Centre to be proactive and come out with schemes that encourage the construction of budget accommodation.

The ministry said in its reply that construction of hotels is primarily a private sector activity and under the scheme, Product/Infrastructure Development for Destinations and Circuits, it provides for construction of wayside public amenities. It also provides for construction of budget accommodation and eco-tourism projects where private investment is not forthcoming. Tourism projects to be funded by the ministry are decided with the states at annual meetings.