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State tourism policy gathers dust

By MAMATA MISHRA

GUWAHATI, Aug 27 - Rolled out as the most ambitious policy to alter the tourism scenario in the State, the �Tourism Policy of Assam 2017� is gathering dust. The incentive-laden policy that seeks to increase tourist inflow by three times is stuck in the State finance department despite its approval by the State Cabinet in 2017.

The State government had launched the policy with great fanfare loading it with a number of incentives for filmmakers shooting their Hindi, English or any other foreign language films in locations of Assam. The incentives are to go up further if the story of the film is based in Assam, or the producer engages local artistes, crew members, etc., in the project.

However, despite completing nearly two years of its launch by the then Tourism Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, the operative guidelines that are supposed to be key factors in implementing the policy, have not been finalised yet.

Sources privy to the development told The Assam Tribune that the guidelines formed by the State tourism department are stuck in the finance department for its clearance. �The policy lays down the broad outlines. However, all the nitty-gritty depends on the operational guidelines that set one legislation rolling on the actual ground,� the sources added.

Interestingly, the policy that was supposed to be effective from January 1, 2018, would continue till December 31, 2022.

A lot of thrust is being given to improve the tourism scenario in Assam with the State government recently announcing Rs 300 crore for improving the tourism infrastructure. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his Independence Day speech, also called upon the countrymen to give emphasis on domestic tourism, with special stress on visiting tourist destinations of the Northeast.

�In view of the current focus on tourism sector being more than ever, now is the time to project all we have on offer for the tourists, tourism related industries and other stakeholders. The ambitious tourism policy has a very futuristic approach towards roping in filmmakers by offering lucrative perks. However, if we are not ready in time with our rules and official work, even best of the policies on paper cannot help us encash our tourism potential,� the sources stated.

Meanwhile, sources in the tourism department said the department had received a number of queries from filmmakers when the policy was promoted nationally and internationally by the government just after its launch.

As per the policy, a cash grant of 25 per cent up to Rs 1 crore of expenditure in Assam will be offered as reimbursement to Hindi, English and foreign language filmmakers, who have produced a minimum of five feature films. As per criteria, 25 per cent shooting of the film must be done in Assam and 25 per cent of cast and crew should be from the State. There will be an additional 10 per cent grant if the film�s storyline is on Assam�s culture, tourism and heritage, while another 10 per cent rebate will be offered if more than 50 per cent of the entire shooting is done in the State.

The Khilonjiya Sahitya Sabha was represented in the meeting by its president Gobinda Taid, secretary general Kamala Kanta Muchahary and other office-bearers, while AASU was represented by its president Dipanka Kumar Nath, general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi, chief advisor Samujjal Bhattacharyya and other office-bearers.

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State tourism policy gathers dust

GUWAHATI, Aug 27 - Rolled out as the most ambitious policy to alter the tourism scenario in the State, the �Tourism Policy of Assam 2017� is gathering dust. The incentive-laden policy that seeks to increase tourist inflow by three times is stuck in the State finance department despite its approval by the State Cabinet in 2017.

The State government had launched the policy with great fanfare loading it with a number of incentives for filmmakers shooting their Hindi, English or any other foreign language films in locations of Assam. The incentives are to go up further if the story of the film is based in Assam, or the producer engages local artistes, crew members, etc., in the project.

However, despite completing nearly two years of its launch by the then Tourism Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, the operative guidelines that are supposed to be key factors in implementing the policy, have not been finalised yet.

Sources privy to the development told The Assam Tribune that the guidelines formed by the State tourism department are stuck in the finance department for its clearance. �The policy lays down the broad outlines. However, all the nitty-gritty depends on the operational guidelines that set one legislation rolling on the actual ground,� the sources added.

Interestingly, the policy that was supposed to be effective from January 1, 2018, would continue till December 31, 2022.

A lot of thrust is being given to improve the tourism scenario in Assam with the State government recently announcing Rs 300 crore for improving the tourism infrastructure. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his Independence Day speech, also called upon the countrymen to give emphasis on domestic tourism, with special stress on visiting tourist destinations of the Northeast.

�In view of the current focus on tourism sector being more than ever, now is the time to project all we have on offer for the tourists, tourism related industries and other stakeholders. The ambitious tourism policy has a very futuristic approach towards roping in filmmakers by offering lucrative perks. However, if we are not ready in time with our rules and official work, even best of the policies on paper cannot help us encash our tourism potential,� the sources stated.

Meanwhile, sources in the tourism department said the department had received a number of queries from filmmakers when the policy was promoted nationally and internationally by the government just after its launch.

As per the policy, a cash grant of 25 per cent up to Rs 1 crore of expenditure in Assam will be offered as reimbursement to Hindi, English and foreign language filmmakers, who have produced a minimum of five feature films. As per criteria, 25 per cent shooting of the film must be done in Assam and 25 per cent of cast and crew should be from the State. There will be an additional 10 per cent grant if the film�s storyline is on Assam�s culture, tourism and heritage, while another 10 per cent rebate will be offered if more than 50 per cent of the entire shooting is done in the State.

The Khilonjiya Sahitya Sabha was represented in the meeting by its president Gobinda Taid, secretary general Kamala Kanta Muchahary and other office-bearers, while AASU was represented by its president Dipanka Kumar Nath, general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi, chief advisor Samujjal Bhattacharyya and other office-bearers.