Gold Cards delay upsets tourism sector
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Gold Cards delay upsets tourism sector

October 17, 2023

‘Exempt tourist vehicles of other States from entry tax until Oct. 30’

Mysore/Mysuru: The delay in the announcement of Gold Cards for Dasara celebrations this year has left the tourism sector in dismay. The Federation of Organisations and Associations of Mysuru (FOAM) has expressed its disappointment with the State Government’s neglect and oversight of the tourism sector, particularly during a time when Mysuru welcomes thousands of visitors during and after Dasara.

At a press conference held at Pathrakartara Bhavan this morning, FOAM President B.S. Prashanth voiced concerns about the absence of information regarding the issuance of Gold Cards this year. He revealed that unverified reports suggest that a prominent politician’s son has acquired 3,000 cards for free.

“FOAM is not advocating for free cards but is willing to pay for them. It is unfortunate that individuals with political connections seem to receive preferential treatment while those working tirelessly in the tourism sector are left in the dark,” he alleged.

Typically, the authorities issue Gold Cards, which grant hassle-free access to all tourist destinations, just a week or two before the festivities. This year, the timing and details of the Gold Cards remain undisclosed. Prashanth noted that this year, Gold Cards may be limited to Jumboo Savari and the Torchlight Parade, which is unfortunate.

FOAM believes that releasing Dasara Gold Cards earlier, rather than waiting until the last minute, would contribute to the promotion of tourism. Many tourists make bookings well in advance and a delayed release of the cards could result in missed business opportunities.

For over two decades, the sale of Dasara Gold Cards has attracted a significant number of visitors. Many tour operators and travel agents from Karnataka and Mysuru have already sold Mysuru Dasara package tours to tourists eager to experience the festival. FOAM estimates that the additional revenue generated for the State would amount to crores of rupees, with overall income surpassing Rs. 100 crore in just 10 days, benefiting stakeholders in the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors.

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Tax exemptions for tourist vehicles

Regarding the Government’s announcement of tax exemptions for tourist vehicles travelling to Mysuru and Krishnaraja Sagara (KRS) Dam in Mandya from other States during the nine days of Dasara festivities, FOAM welcomed the move but criticised the timing of the announcement. Tourists typically plan their trips in advance and this belated announcement may limit the impact of the exemptions. FOAM stressed the importance of sensible measures to support tourism development.

The exemption, as per a notification from the Transport Department, applies to tourist vehicles registered in other States that pay road tax in their respective States. They will be exempt from entry tax in Karnataka between Oct. 16 and Oct. 24 if they are heading to Mysuru city or the KRS Dam in Srirangapatna, Mandya district, during the nine days of Dasara festivities. Special permits are required to qualify for tax exemptions.

FOAM further urged the Government to extend the exemption until the end of October and to reconsider the exclusion of Mandya and Kodagu. They argue that tourists often visit Mandya and Kodagu, and it’s crucial to foster a tourist-friendly atmosphere that encourages, rather than discourages, tourism.

The tax exemptions will benefit maxi cabs, taxis and tourist buses from Kerala and Tamil Nadu. FOAM estimates that around 2,000 taxis, 1,000 maxi cabs and 300 tourist buses enter Mysuru and its surrounding tourist destinations daily during Dasara. Entry fees range from Rs. 300 for taxis to Rs. 1,800-2,000 for maxi cabs and up to Rs. 15,000 for buses, depending on their seating capacity. These fees are charged per entry and are valid for seven days.

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