THE Maharashtra government is applying finishing touches to a fresh policy to boost investment in the tourism sector. Among the features of the policy are introduction of a new category for ‘ultra mega projects’ and a slew of fiscal and financial incentives. With the new policy, the government hopes to attract investments worth at least Rs 30,000 crore and create a minimum of 1 million additional jobs in the tourism sector.
All projects aimed to promote tourism with a fixed capital investment of a minimum of Rs 500 crore or promising a direct employment generation of 750 anywhere in the state will be categorised as ultra mega projects.
For 20 years, such projects will avail 100 per cent exemption from luxury tax, entertainment tax, electricity duty, stamp duty and registration charges, property tax and non-agricultural tax. Besides, ultra mega tourism projects will also be eligible for 100 per cent reimbursement of gross value added tax, a full refund of the employee provident fund for the eligible period, and a higher floor space index (FSI).
The state’s industrial policy too has an ultra mega projects category that promises a customised incentive scheme for all projects under it. To boost tourism, state proposes ultra mega projects
“We are looking to attract projects such as large investment parks that can be destinations within themselves, like a Disneyland, large resorts, hotels. The earlier policy didn’t necessarily have area-wise or category-wise incentives, which we have incorporated in this one. Malls and multiplexes will not be covered under the policy,” said a senior official from the tourism department.
The department has invited suggestions and objections from various stakeholders on the draft.
Besides financial inducements to ultra mega projects, the draft policy also proposes to categorise tourism projects into a mega projects category, a large projects category and small and medium enterprises, offering different set of incentives to each group.
The policy also promises additional concessions across the state for sustainable tourism and those promoting the state as a destination for meetings, conferences and exhibitions.
The department will lay special emphasis on promoting tourism in Nagpur, Aurangabad and Sindhudurg districts, which the policy proposes to declare as special tourism districts. In these districts, tourism industry units with a fixed capital investment of Rs 50 lakh and an employment generation capacity of five persons will be able to demand incentives from the government for a period of 15 months.
The policy proposes to divide the entire state into three zones for the purpose of offering incentives. Zone A will include Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane, Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad where projects will need to have a minimum fixed capital investment of Rs 5 crore and a direct employment generation of 15 in a three-year investment to be eligible for incentives. Here, a unit can be classified as a mega project only if it promises a fixed investment of Rs 100 crore or a direct employment generation of 300.
Zone B will include all other municipal corporations where a tourism unit will have to propose a minimum fixed capital investment of Rs 2 crore with an employment generation of 10 for a period of two years to be eligible for incentives. Zone C will include all areas not under Zone A, B or special tourism districts and special tourism zones, and will offer incentives to even units with a minimum investment of Rs 50 lakh and a direct employment generation of five persons for 18 months.
The policy also proposes a much higher FSI — the ratio of the permissible built-up area to the plot area — of 3 for tourism units in zones A and B for mega and ultra mega projects.
The policy proposes to do away with the current mandate of getting all licences and clearances for tourism units renewed every year, relaxing the renewal process to once in five years.
“After obtaining the suggestions and objections, we will send the draft to all government departments for their comments, and then finally to the cabinet. About a hundred meetings have taken place to prepare the draft. It would be another six months before we can finalise the policy,” said a tourism department official.