What good does Budget hold for Indian tourism industry?

What good does Budget hold for Indian tourism industry?

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By Dharamveer Singh Chouhan

"The Indian tourism industry has been one of the most consistent and fastest-growing sectors of the Indian economy, contributing roughly 9.2% to the overall GDP. The sector is expected to grow at an annual rate of 6.9% to $490B by 2028, expecting to see close to 31B Foreign Tourist arrivals. A focus on further developing the sector can be one of the major enablers of helping revive the current GDP growth rate.

India’s rich heritage remains untapped and unexplored on account of their remote locations. Impetus to projects such as Incredible India, UDAN, new initiatives to promote our heritage destinations, better road connectivity will definitely help reinforce the tourism market.
The attention of our honourable Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman on policies pertaining to better connectivity to different tourist destinations, enhanced facilities, and experiences for the tourists will certainly help our tourism industry. The focus should also be given on skill development and education at all levels across the travel domain to create equal employment opportunities for everyone in the sector.

We were expecting reforms in rate slabs of GST, Input Tax Credit and a definitive step to boost the domestic and inbound traffic. Incentivising banks and financial institutions to extend funds to the home-entrepreneurs in association with trusted government partners will go a long way in quickly developing the infrastructure, in tandem with promoting remote destinations with last-mile connectivity from major metros to tourism destinations, to unlock India’s full tourism potential.
Easy and accessible e-visa policies would also help boost inbound tourist arrivals from more countries. We are also expecting the UDAN scheme to be extended to more airports and help develop the regional travel economy. The initiation of PPP's for developing existing government accommodation assets and open areas in terms of investment, operating efficiency and modern technology, will help the sector to reduce operating and maintenance costs and boost quality and innovation. This move will draw keen interest from players like Zostel who are willing to partner with the government to work towards developing these projects, bringing in new travel niches such as caravan parks, Recreational Vehicle(RV) transport in parallel with promoting and developing the Indian homestay segment. A regulatory ecosystem in the backpacker industry will help boost India's role in the segment, having a positive impact on increasing both the demand of domestic and inbound travelers as well as asset supply to cater to this growth.We will look forward to working in tandem with the Finance and Tourism Ministries in boosting the influx of both domestic and foreign tourists and positioning India as one of the leading travel economies of the world."

(The writer, Dharamveer Singh Chouhan, is the Co-founder and CEO of Zostel)