Speaking at a tourism meet, FM Arun Jaitley, taking note of law and order problem, said, "One small incident of rape in Delhi was enough to cost of million dollars in terms of lower number of tourists. We have national responsibility and God has given us everything which tourists wants to see, we just have to catalyse that process and make sure of that we take right step."
Arun Jaitley was referring to the horrific December 16 Delhi gangrape in a moving bus that shocked the country and the world and led to months of unrest on the streets of the city.
The words created a backlash, with many expressing outrage at the insensitivity shown by the Finance Minister of India.
Later, at the event, advocating low tax regime, Arun Jaitley said if higher taxes are levied on the tourism industry, then there will be less tourists and lesser revenue collection.
"If tourism industry, state governments and the centre are loaded with higher taxes then we will have less tourists and lesser collection," he said at a Tourism Ministers conference here.
Hinting at the existing higher taxation on tourism sector, Arun Jaitley said, "Today, wealthy Indians are finding it cheaper to get their children married in Thailand than in Indian hotels. It's a hard reality."
Tour operators are demanding reduction in various taxes for long particularly exemption of service tax on packaged tours as the payment is made in forex.
Jaitley said the present government at the centre believes that "we are low taxation government not high taxation. If you leave more money at the hands of tax payers he would spend more. The economy expands more. If you levy lower taxes then products will be cheaper their saleability increases."
Seeking lower room rates and deduction in airfare, the Union Minister said, "This principle applies to airlines and hotels also. If our airline is going to be costlier, if hotels are going to be costlier in comparison to the rest of the world, our volume will never increase. Costly rooms rates means less tourists. Less tourists means lower revenue for the government. Higher taxation on tourism means less tourism. which means lower earning."
Highlighting the importance of tourism industry, he said "if India is to grow and Indian economy is to grow then tourism is certainly one of the low hanging fruits which is achievable."
Dubbing the tourism sector as one