India Travel Award winners from across regions share their opinions on the implementation of GST on its first anniversary, while highlighting the importance of security for women travellers.
Best Tour Operator — 68M Holidays (South 2018)
GST has been a good move. The tax structure will make our industry more organised and transparent. I feel the tax filling structure needs to be simple and easier for agents located in small towns and villages,” feels Syed Murtaja Ali, Managing Director, 68M Holidays. For making travel safe for women, he says, “We need to take more preventive action to ensure security for women travellers through imparting knowledge to taxi drivers, tour guides and the hotel staff. We need to develop a holistic infrastructure to elevate a pleasant experience.
Best Sales & Marketing Professional— Sachin K S (South 2018)
GST is a good initiative, but the tax rates could have been better. Few of our neighbouring countries or tourist destinations charge fewer taxes. Putting less burden of tax on the guests will enable more inflow of travel. The GST should be guest-friendly and economical to hotels as well,” feels Sachin KS, Director— Sales & Head South Travel Trade, Hotel Royal Orchid Bangalore. On women safety, KS advocates instituting a committee in hotels where issues related to women security can be monitored and appropriate action is uandertaken.
Best 5-star Business Hotel— Aloft Bengaluru Whitefield (South 2018)
The idea of GST was a masterstroke but its execution has taken a huge toll on the hospitality industry. Whilst the GST structure of mid/upper segment hotel has helped, the payment issues from corporate companies are still cumbersome,” explains Vinod M, General Manager, Aloft Bengaluru Whitefield. On women safety at his hotel, he says, “Efficient monitoring by CCTV cameras at the hotel is crucial. We have single lady guest floors at the hotel, which is guarded by trained female guards. Female housekeeping attendants ensure the female guests feel at ease.
Best B2B Travel Event— Global Panorama Showcase (South 2018)
GST is a welcome change. There are a lot of benefits on following the correct procedures in the GST ambit. It has long-term benefits for the future. The biggest challenge with GST is getting ITC. There is a need to spread more awareness about it,” believes Harmandeep Singh Anand, Managing Director, Global Panorama Showcase. He further addresses the security issue, “With such a huge population, I think ‘tourist police’ is something that should come into play. The industry as a whole should be aware. We should whole-heartedly welcome our guests.
Best Tour Operator – Inbound— Cholan Tours (South 2018)
GST has abolished tax on tax structure and reduced the complexity of taxation procedures. For customers, GST is now more comprehensible. Moreover, the process to claim and avail ITC (input tax credit) is also clear,” says Pandian, Director, Cholan Tours. On safety measures, he added, “Unfortunately violence against women does exist everywhere, but this alone cannot be considered to brand India unsafe for women. We ourselves need to find solutions to prevent violence on women and the Indian media too should act a responsible role in showcasing positive news about India.
Best Corporate Travel Agency— Archana Travels (South 2018)
Baddam Bhoja Reddy, Managing Director, Archana Travels, says that GST has severely affected his business. He says, “Our regular bookings have gone down by 25 per cent, which has hit us really hard.” “For the safety and security of women passengers, the company should take care of each and every booking from the beginning to end. To ensure a healthy development of our business, we need to be on our toes,” Reddy further added.
Excellence in Customer Service— The Fog Munnar Resorts and Spa (South 2018)
Analysing GST’s effect, Vimalroy V, General Manager, The Fog Munnar Resorts and Spa, says, “Hotels had published tariffs and special tariffs for contracted agents, but GST questioned the existence of this system. Same is the case with the season /off season tariff systems. The issue remains unresolved.” On safe travel environment, he adds, “India is still one of the safest places to travel even for solo women travellers. I think one or two isolated incidents, though very unfortunate, should not be the yardstick of safety of travellers in the country.
Best Boutique Tour Operator— Nexus Travels (West 2017)
Talking about GST’s implementation, Vicky Ray, Director, Nexus Travels, says, “GST is a mixed bag of improved, easier rules and regulations and increased costs and compliances. The initial hiccups after GST implementation are highly unlikely to slow down the growth of the tourism and hospitality industry. However, it remains to be seen whether the cons outweigh the pros for this sector.” Speaking on enhancing safety and security of tourists, Ray says that they should remain cautious about the existing codes and laws and not fall in any trap.