India Tourism Budget Applauded by Industry Leaders
Finance Minister presents proposed budget allocation for 2020-21
The tourism industry for India is applauding the proposed India tourism budget allocation of Rs 2,500 crore for the financial year 2020-21. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said today, Saturday, February 1, 2020, that improvement of the tourism industry is directly related to growth and job creation.
“This is an imperative towards education and skill development of our sector (tourism) that contributes a significant 10% to India’s GDP. Additionally, (tourism) plays a critical force-multiplier role in job creation, accounting for 26.7 million jobs in 2018 – and is expected to provide employment to nearly 53 million people, directly and indirectly, by 2029,” said Madhavan Menon, chairman and managing director, Thomas Cook (India) Ltd.
The minister, while presenting the budget for FY21, highlighted that India has moved up from rank 65 in 2014 to 34 in 2019 on the Travel & Tourism Competitive Index of the World Economic Forum.
Mr. Vishal Suri, Managing Director, SOTC Travel, said: “The Budget 2020 announced measures to further boost and create a momentum in the overall tourism sector. The proposal of 100 additional airports by 2024 as per the UDAN Scheme, introducing more Tejas-type trains which will help connect tourist destinations and the overall allocation of Rs. 1.7 lakh crore for transport infrastructure in 2020-21, will revitalize the untapped and unexplored destinations in India.”
The new personal income tax regime would put higher disposable incomes in the hands of the individuals, by allowing an option of a lower-rate regime if all exemptions (including investment- linked exemptions) are foregone. This step would induce consumer spends and inevitably help consumption across sectors, especially tourism.
Additionally, India’s natural beauty, rich heritage, and culture will further be amplified by the government’s plans of setting up of 5 archaeological on-site museums in places such as Rakhi Gadi in Haryana, Hastinapur in UP, Dholavira in Gujarat, Shivsagar in Assam, and Adichanallur in Tamil Nadu, along with a tribal museum in Ranchi, Jharkhand, and a maritime site in Lothal. This is being supported with a budgetary allocation of Rs 3,100 crore earmarked for the Culture Ministry and Rs 2,500 crore for tourism promotion within the India tourism budget. This will encourage domestic tourism. Additionally, an Indian Institute of Heritage and Culture has been deemed to be a university set up, and more Tejas-type trains are to be introduced to connect iconic cities.
Rohit Kapoor, CEO of OYO, India South Asia, had this to say about the budget: “It is heartening to see a budget that focuses on improving standards of living as well as economic development. A grant of INR Rs 2,500 crore for tourism promotion and the development of 5 iconic archeological sites and museums in the country are bright indicators of the renewed focus of the government on the travel and tourism industry. Apart from these initiatives, the overall focus on increased disposable income, better infrastructure, better connectivity, and the digital push will help boost demand for the hospitality industry in India. It is also heartening that the government acknowledges and understands the role of entrepreneurs in both capital and job creation in the country. Government’s efforts towards creating more opportunities for startups will spur entrepreneurship.”
Arun Dang, a leading hotelier from Agra and active in industry issues, said: “The budget allocation for tourism should be at least Rs 5,000 crore. The closed offices of tourism must be reopened and assured of adequate funds, and there should be no tax on the travel industry more than 10 percent.” He added that he welcomed the stress on connectivity and the new trains plan.