By Gaurav Aggarwal
1. Revive domestic tourism
Due to the pent-up travel desire and a steep decline in Covid-19 cases, people are now inclined towards leisure travel. The current travel pattern is determined by the distance of the destination from home as well as the various safety offerings during commute and stay. Which is why nearby, offbeat destinations that are accessible by short road trips are taking a precedence over popular tourist destinations. The advantages of these destinations are twofold - a boost to the local economy and reduced risk of infection as these destinations are lesser-known and hence, less crowded. The Tourism Ministry's budgets have previously been slashed over the last few budgets to a meagre 1500 crore. In order to spur domestic tourism and make India a world-class tourist destination, we expect that the budgetary allocation is at least increased by 50% in the upcoming budget.
2. Allocation of funds for road infrastructure
Road connectivity plays a pivotal role here. Investments in the road infrastructure, especially for the remote towns and villages would be a prudent choice to promote local tourism while simultaneously ensuring risk-free travel. This would align well with the government's vision to build Atmanirbhar Bharat creating jobs in smaller towns thereby supporting the local travel and hospitality sector. The total expenditure on the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways for 2019-20 was around Rs 90,000 crore, growing at a healthy trend over the last 5 years. We would anticipate this to continue and hope that the allocation hit the Rs. 1,00,000 crore mark in the upcoming budget.
3. Focus on religious tourism
In India, pilgrimages and holy sites rank significantly high among the preferred tourist destinations of people, including the lower classes. Religious tourism was severely hit as the prominent religious attractions such as Vaishno Devi, Golden Temple, Tirupati, Shirdi and Siddhivinayak temples remained largely shut during most of the previous year. Spirituality and faith being ingrained into the very core of the Indian society, now more than ever, people will seek refuge in god. As religious travel is expected to soar in 2021, the government should allocate a large pool of funds for the upgradation of on-premise infrastructure (like ticket collection centres, ATMs and toilets) in these establishments of worship.
(The author is founder of Savaari Car Rentals)