Top hoteliers want chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to go easy on excise rules for avoiding any adverse effect on tourism in Madhya Pradesh.
Chouhan will be in Indore on Thursday to inaugurate a three-day convention of Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI).
The hoteliers’ move to seek relaxation in excise rules comes a few days after Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar launched his prohibition rally with the support of the Narmada Bachao Andolan activists in Barwani. Moreover, Chouhan has often repeated his stand on ‘no new liquor shop’ in the state.
FHRAI president Bharat Malkani told the media that Maharashtra to promote tourism had identified five tourist zones in Mumbai where liquor was allowed 24 hours a day. “We are against prohibition in any form as it badly affects tourism. We have been lobbying with various state governments to relax rules related to serving of liquor,” he said.
Another major problem was high taxation which stood at over 20 per cent, he said. “In most countries, it is around 5 per cent. This is turning away tourists. We are promising that at 5 per cent tax, the industry will pay taxes three times it does now within five years due to growth.”
FHRAI was holding the convention in Madhya Pradesh and a relatively smaller city like Indore for the first time, Malkani said.
“Usually such conventions are held in big cities, as there is fear that attendance will be low, but we are happy to note that 500 delegates have registered and the figure may touch 700.”
Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI) former president Kamlesh Barot said 7.6 million tourists come to India, while Hong Kong which was smaller than Mumbai saw over 60 million visitors.
Barot said the hotel industry generated a lot of employment, especially for those who did not possess a college degree.
“The industry provides 24 million in direct employment and 53 million in indirect employment. For every `10 lakh invested, the hotel industry gives employment to 45 people while agriculture employs 18,” he said.
The association’s Indore unit president Sumit Suri said the convention would boost tourism in the state.
Madhya Pradesh is looking at up to 15 per cent increase in tourist arrivals to around 7.5 crore this year as it undertakes a slew of initiatives to promote the state as a preferred destination.
The state saw about 7 crore tourist arrivals last year. It offers heritage sites, wild life, nature,
religious destination to tourists visiting the state.