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Tuesday, Sep 06, 2005

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Uttaranchal to focus on tourism infrastructure

Ambar Singh Roy

Kolkata , Sept. 5

THE Government of Uttaranchal will spend around Rs 100 crore every year for the next three years on the creation of tourism infrastructure in the State.

In addition, private sector investment to the tune of Rs 3,000 crore in the State's tourism sector over the next three to five years has been envisaged. Of this proposed corpus, an investment amount of Rs 1,200 crore is already in the pipeline, according to Mr Alok Kumar Jain, Principal Secretary of Tourism, Sports & Youth Welfare, Uttaranchal.

Mr Jain, who is here as part of a delegation that represents Uttaranchal at the on-going Travel & Tourism Fair 2005, told Business Line that, besides the proposed investment that would be made by the State's tourism department, other State Government departments, such as power and public works, would also invest in infrastructure to facilitate tourism development in the State. A master plan prepared by the State Government focuses on circuit tourism and destination tourism. Different circuits and stand-alone destinations would be promoted as tourist hotspots in this regard.

Towards this end, the Uttaranchal Tourism Development Board was working on co-ordination and synergy of the operations of the Kumanon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN) and Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN), the two tourism corporations of the State. "These two regional development corporations are part of a historical legacy which we have inherited after the bifurcation of the undivided Uttar Pradesh State. The idea now is to ensure that there is no conflict of interest," Mr Jain said.

Efforts at "single branding" were being made. An advertisement and branding corpus of Rs 5 crore has been earmarked for 2005-06 to promote the State as "Simply Heaven."

According to Mr Jain, efforts were being made to ensure a greater role for the private sector in tourism development in the State. The list of incentives being offered include exemption of luxury tax for five years in respect of new tourism units, entertainment tax exemption for five years for amusement parks, 100 per cent exemption of entertainment tax for three years for multiplex projects, a capital investment subsidy of 15 per cent up to a maximum of Rs 30 lakh and a one-time capital grant of 10 per cent of the total principal loan taken from designated financial institutions or up to Rs 25 lakh for one-star, Rs 50 lakh for two-star and Rs 75 lakh for three-star and heritage category hotel projects, among others.

"Attempts made in the past to hand over government properties on lease to the private sector have not been quite successful on account of land issues and receipt of clearances from the forest department. However, in respect of the new properties that we are developing, we shall ensure greater participation of the private sector, especially with regard to the management of these new properties," Mr Jain said.

In 2004-05, Uttaranchal attracted 1.4 crore tourists, including $75,000-paying tourists. The revenue generated from tourism in the State last year has been pegged at about Rs 3,000 crore. An annual growth of around 20 per cent in the State's tourism sector was expected, Mr Jain added.

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