The Union Budget for 2020-2021 presented by Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman was a mixed bag for Indian tourism. While the Indian tourism industry would be an indirect beneficiary of the overall focus on infrastructure spending by the government, the Budget failed to address many long-pending demands.
travelobiz gathers the reactions of all the Travel Trade & Tourism Associations, here is how the trade react on Budget 2020.
Positive Intent for Tourism: ICPB
Amaresh Tiwari, Vice Chairman, Indian Convention Promotion Bureau (ICPB), says, “The Finance Minister has focused on the importance of tourism and announced following measures to boost tourism in India which is an inclusive growth indicator. She acknowledges the contribution of tourism in the development of India. 2500 cr has been allocated for tourism in 2021. 100 more Airports will be built by 2024 under Udaan and doubling of aircraft fleet has been announced. More trains like TEJAS to connect tourism sites will be initiated. The tribal museum is to be set up in Ranchi, Jharkhand. Five archaeological sites are to be developed to iconic sites with on-site museums.”
New airports could boost adventure tourism destinations: ATOAI
Capt. Swadesh Kumar, President, ATOAI, has said that they are disappointed since there has not been a significant increase in the budget allocated for tourism promotion. “Nevertheless, we are very delighted that 100 new airports will be developed under the UDAN scheme. I hope these new airports should be in the far-flung areas of Himalayas as well so that adventure tourism could also rise. We are also happy that Majuli Island in Assam has been added to the iconic sites list. I hope more such sites are included. I expected some announcement on the natural heritage of the country for generating more employment opportunities, but would like the state governments to take it forward,” he said.
Focus on both domestic and inbound tourism: ADTOI
PP Khanna, President, Association of Domestic Tour Operators of India (ADTOI), has said that the Government has really thought about tourism as an important sector. “It is a tool for the generation for employment as well as revenue generation. Announcing allocation of Rs 3500 crore for tourism in 2021 is a good move. Apart from that, they have talked about the airport, land, railways, waterways. They have covered everything that can be a tool for the development of tourism including 100 airports by 2024 and doubling aircraft fleet under the UDAN scheme. More trains like Tejas and high sped trains would certainly boost tourism within the country. They have also selected 5 archaeological sites to be developed with the development of museums. Even 550 railway stations will be provided with wi-fi, which is a need today. With all these efforts tourism will be developed, what needs to be done now is to focus on skill development in the unorganized sector, which would make India a destination to look out for,” he says.
Hospitality has been neglected: HAI
J.K. Mohanty, Hony. Secretary, Hotel Association of India (HAI) says,” We welcome the Govt. of India’s decision to increase the budget for tourism promotion from 575 crores in 2019 to 2500 crores and Rs.3150 crore for the promotion of Culture in place of INR 875.33 crore sanctioned in last year’s budget. Further, the grant of INR 1.7 lakh crore to the transport infrastructure sector would definitely have a positive impact on the tourism sector. However, hospitality seems to have been neglected once more. Among our demands, the top beings Hotels under infrastructure status have not been considered nor has it been declared as a priority sector for getting long term loans.
Outbound to become more expensive: TAFI
Pradip Lulla, Acting President and Vice President, Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI), says, “The budget proposal to allocate 1.7 lakh crores with more faster Tejas type trains; better roads like Delhi Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru expressway; development of 5 iconic tourist centres and renovation of 4 museums; are welcome. Further reduction of indirect taxes on individuals will create disposable income to spend on tourism. The deficit increasing to 3.8% would weaken the rupee and make outbound more expensive.”
No Direct Benefit to Hospitality: FHRAI
Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, Vice President, Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Association of India (FHRAI), says, “The appeal for further reduction of GST and infrastructure status for hospitality remains still in the wish list. Neighboring countries continue to have the advantage of a lower GST, while the hospitality industry which is a major facilitator of jobs in India remains at a disadvantage. Single window clearances for hospitality projects remain a pipe dream, even as hotels continue to face challenging situations. The only positive lies in allocations to build infrastructure wherein 100 more airports will be developed by 2024, roads will be built and new trains and tracks will facilitate connectivity to tourist destinations, which may help draw in more business.”
Not Satisfactory for the Industry: TAAI
Jyoti Mayal, President, Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), claims that there was nothing great about the budget. She says, “The Government has just increased the allocation for tourism and they are investing in heritage and culture, which is very good. Of course, they should be doing that because these monuments need to be maintained. The Government has picked up some states where they will be developing iconic sites. Apart from that, there is nothing great about the budget. It’s just that the money has been increased, which is anyways allocated every year. There was no mention of GST for tourism and no corpus created separately for investment, which we had recommended. Overall it was a normal budget with many things done for growth and infrastructure within the country. They are doing good for railways, but not much for the growth of the industry. I am not satisfied.”
We Expected More: OTOAI
Riaz Munshi, President, OTOAI, said that this was a fairly disappointing budget in perspective of outbound tourism from India. Looking at the significant growth in number outbound tourists from in the last few years, we expected more from the government apart from relief in GST for outbound tourism. One welcome step to cheer for is the announcement to develop 100 more airports and the expected rise in the air fleet to 1200 aircraft by 2024. I think the increased number of airports in the country will give a boost to outbound travel and the number of flights to more destinations.
Govt. could have done much more: FAITH
Subhash Goyal, Secretary General, Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH), has said that they are not very happy with the budget. “We are a little disappointed. The Government could have done many more positive things. The additional allocation of budget for tourism was a great move, along with 550 stations to be provided with Wi-fi. While all these things are good, there has nothing been done about coastal areas. We have 7500km of coastline, and some allocation of funds should have been done for that. Even island tourism or river tourism could be focused on. Most important thing is that foreign airlines should be allowed to operate, open sky policy should be there and ATF price has to be reduced. All these things have to be done to double the number of inbound tourism. This is the way we generate millions of jobs. It’s a good budget for startups and for the people in lower or middle-class bracket. But nothing has been done to give a boost to tourism. What we want is that Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) from tourism should be given equal status as physical exports and considered as export of services. Since our services are exported, we need similar benefits from the Government as well. It will give some boost and will certainly double the numbers,” he says.
An encouraging budget for inbound tourism: IATO
Rajiv Mehra, Vice President, Indian Association of Tour Operators, (IATO), has said it’s encouraging that the Finance Minister spoke at length about tourism this time in the Budget. “She made a number of announcements including a hike in the Budget for tourism promotion by allocating Rs 2500 crore, making 100 more airports operational by 2024 and doubling the aircraft fleet to 1200. Most importantly, I am happy that the government announced more Tejas-like trains to iconic tourist destinations, which has been IATO’s demand and it will certainly boost tourism. The state governments will also have to play a major role in promoting tourism since the Centre will now provide grants if they develop a roadmap and financial plans for certain identified destinations. As far as road connectivity is concerned, which will benefit us, in the long run, is the introduction of the Chennai-Bengaluru and Delhi-Mumbai expressway, which would be ready by 2023,” he adds.
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Also Read, Budget 2020 for Travel and Tourism Industry