ETW Staff – Mumbai
The Responsible Tourism Project at Kumarakom, an initiative of Kerala Tourism, has won the 2013 UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation under the category – Public Policy and Governance. It is the first tourism board in India to win this award. Other awardees of the 2013 UNWTO Ulysses Award under different categories were – UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Enterprises: Arromanches 1944, Biplan, France; UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Non-Governmental Organisations: From Charity to Social Entrepreneurship, Borneo Ecotourism Solutions and Technologies (BEST) Society, Malaysia; and UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Research and Technology: 3D AR Visual Portal, DSP Studio & Momentum Studio, Croatia.
Meanwhile, the Kerala government has announced major tax concessions for the state tourism industry in the state budget 2014. The major announcement includes a reduction in luxury tax to five per cent on hotels from June to August to promote off-season tourism. The step is expected to help reduce tariff in hotels and resorts in the state’s major backwater and hill destinations. AP Anilkumar, tourism minister, Kerala, said, “The concessions will give a new fillip to the tourism industry in Kerala and help the state discover new avenues of growth for the important sector, which has received several international awards and recognitions.” The government has also reduced luxury tax on convention centres and auditoriums with a daily rent exceeding Rs 20,000 to 10 per cent from 20 per cent, in a bid to promote MICE tourism, a niche category for facilitating national and international conferences, conventions and seminars. Other announcements relate to substantial increase in allocation for marketing destinations and implementing special tourism projects. Suman Billa, secretary, Kerala Tourism, said, “By making luxury tax on hotels and resorts during June-August only five per cent, the government is helping the state tourism sector in a big way to promote monsoon travel.”