Thursday, June 29, 2017

New Indian Tax

From 1 July 2017 India will have a new tax.  The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a country wide tax on all goods and services – similar to VAT (but there are three bands – depending on the cost of the item).  Currently the individual states all set their own taxes – so GST will bring the whole country under one unified system.  Accommodation in hotels, guesthouses, houseboats, homestays etc will be subject to GST and all bookings taken from 1 July will include this tax. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Taj Mahal Restoration

We have just learned that the restoration work currently being carried out on the Taj Mahal is going to take longer than expected.  The time table they are now working to is as follows:

Southern and south west façades and south-east Minaret – June to August 2017
Northern façade – August to October 2017
Western façade – October to December 2017
Wall of periphery Sheesh Mahal – November 2017 to January 2018
Four chhatris on roof – January to April 2018
Pinnacle and dome – May to November 2018

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Popular destination for 2017

India welcomed a record number of international visitors in the first quarter of 2017.  2.8 million arrivals in January to March was a 13.7% increase compared to the same quarter last year and a new record.    

Saturday, May 6, 2017

India bans liquor sales near highways

India has long had draconian rules regarding the sale and consumption of alcohol (liquor).  Drunk driving accounts for many deaths in India and heavy drinking by men who then abuse their wives and children is a major issue within the country.  So it is understandable that they want to try and curb the consumption of alcohol.  But invariably laws created to resolve a local problem are affecting the tourist industry.

Kerala has been trying to tackle the situation for a long time and two years ago introduced a law that meant only 5 star hotels could hold a full alcohol licence.  Beer and wine licences were available for 3 and 4 star hotels.  Below 3 star no licence was allowed.  Some hotels (eg Marari Beach Resort) went through the process of upgrading to 5 star in order to be able to offer their customers a full range of drinks. 

Now the Supreme Court in Delhi have come up with a law banning the sale of alcohol within 500m of a highway.  Originally everyone thought that the ban was on the liquor shops and vendors that operate right beside the main roads – this did not seem unreasonable.  But then a last minute shock announcement meant that all outlets including hotels would be affected. 

We were not unduly worried because few of our customers select hotels on the side of a main road or highway.  But we have now discovered that many road are classed as ‘highways’ and some of our customers’ favourite hotels are affected.  The small road off the National Highway that winds its way through a village and past a temple that leads to Marari Beach Resort is a highway and that hotel has now lost its licence!  Also the small ‘no through road’ that runs from Kumily through Thekkady and into Periyar National Park is considered to be a highway and resorts such as Spice Village and Cardamom County have lost their licences.  Even the Aranya Nivas Hotel inside the park has lost its licence!

The travel/hotel industry is obviously doing everything it can to resolve this issue.  Hugh amounts of money and jobs will be lost if this situation cannot be resolved.  In the meantime individual bar owners are doing what they can to reverse the ban on their own properties (such as blocking the front door and making the back door the main entrance if it is more than 500m from the road).  The individual Indian states are also doing what they can – many state highways may be reclassified a roads.

The situation is therefore fluid and until things settle it will not be possible for us to tell our customers what the licence situation will be for each accommodation used on their holiday. 

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