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Saturday, Jan 10, 2004

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Tourism bodies welcome duty cut on ATF

Sankar Radhakrishnan

Thiruvananthapuram , Jan. 9

THE tourism and travel industry in Kerala has welcomed the Union Government'sannouncement that excise duty on aviation turbine fuel (ATF) would be reduced from 16 per cent to 8 per cent and that the 15 per cent inland air travel tax (IATT) will be abolished.

Mr Alkesh Kumar Sharma, Director, Department of Tourism, Government of Kerala, said the move would be a major boost for the tourism industry, particularly for a State such as Kerala. The move will lead to a reduction in domestic airfares and will encourage travel, he added.

Agreeing with this, Mr K.C. Chandrahasan, Managing Director, Kerala Travels, said the reduction in excise duty on ATF and the abolition of the IATT would be especially beneficial to the domestic air traveller. "It will be extremely useful for people flying to Kerala as fares will now become more affordable," he added. This step will also encourage more people to fly, he stated.

"It is great news for the travel trade," said Mr E.M. Najeeb, Chairman and Managing Director, Air Travel Enterprises India Ltd. The Government's decision will lead to an appreciable benefit for domestic air travellers, he added. Travel industry sources point out that airfares to Kerala from other Indian destinations will drop — at the very least — by figures ranging from Rs 600 to Rs 1,500.

According to the travel industry, domestic airfares to and from Kerala can be reduced even further if the Government of Kerala cuts the tax on ATF from the present 34 per cent and removes the 15 per cent surcharge levied on this 34 per cent.

"The tax on ATF in States such as Andhra Pradesh is as low as 4 per cent," said Mr Najeeb. The industry hope Kerala will reduce it in the forthcoming Budget as a step to encourage tourism, he added.

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