Kerala Transport Minister Antony Raju on Thursday agreed in-principle to a proposal from Tourism Minister P A Mohamed Riyas to slash the motor-vehicle tax on tourist caravans by one-fourth, considering the immense scope of caravan tourism in the state.

The Government will soon approve the proposal after going through the formalities required, Raju said while inaugurating a joint workshop of Tourism and Transport departments held here to deliberate on the operational details of the caravan tourism policy and sensitize Regional Transport Officers (RTOs) on the procedural and regulatory aspects of the project.

Hailing the policy announced recently as a major step forward in tourism development, Raju pledged utmost support and cooperation of the Motor Vehicles Department for its success.

Presiding over the inaugural session of the workshop, Riyas asked the Motor Vehicles Department to ensure that the registration of caravan vehicles and the issue of permits to them are carried out in a hassle-free manner. He added that the tax on caravans must be reduced to ₹250 per square metre from the current ₹1,000 per sq.m..

The Government’s policy is that every panchayat and municipality must have at least one tourist destination. For their smooth day-to-day running, the government has decided to enlist the active participation of local self-government institutions. Since suitable staying facilities in such set-ups will be difficult, the solution is caravan tourism, Riyas said.

Green channel passage

Raju said the Government would provide green channel passage for caravans that carry a special sticker suggesting the joint recognition of the Tourism and Transport departments. They would also get preference while testing for pollution. Caravans will be given registration within 24 hours of application, the Minister added.

The Additional Transport Commissioner would be the State Nodal Officer for Caravans. The practice of on-road inspections will be avoided to facilitate smooth passage of caravans.

Tourism Director V R Krishna Teja made a presentation on the Caravan Tourism project.

The workshop mainly focused on the rules and regulations about the operation of tourist caravans. It also looked into the procedural protocols relating to the standardization of caravans and their smooth movement in any part of the state and the comfortable stay of tourists at the caravan parks and other stop-over spots.

The event comes in the wake of the Kerala government’s announcement of the country’s most stakeholder-friendly caravan tourism policy, promising the visitors a safe, customised and closest-to-nature travel experience.