Tour cos cheer 'Incredible India 2.0'

Even as travel companies view plans for the industry in the Budget with a wait-and-watch approach, they seem elated at the government’s idea to develop domestic tourism, and promote the country as an ideal holiday destination, through Incredible India 2.0.

Reading out the Budget 2017 speech, Jaitley told Parliament: “Tourism is a big employment generator and has a multiplier impact on the economy. Five Special Tourism Zones, anchored on SPVs (special purpose vehicles), will be set up in partnership with the states. The Incredible India 2.0 campaign will be launched across the world.”

According to data provided by the Indian Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), the tourism industry is expected to generate 13.45 million jobs, across sub-segments such as restaurants (10.49 million), hotels (2.3 million), and travel agents/tour operators (0.66 million). Also, the total contribution of travel and tourism to India’s GDP is forecasted to increase by 4.97% per annum, to $280.5 billion by 2025. However, experts and travel companies are looking at the Budgetary announcements with a wait-and-watch approach, even as they seem quite confident of a brighter future for various aspects of the industry.

According to FCM Travel Solutions Managing Director Rakshit Desai, “With an objective to clearly give a further impetus to both domestic and inbound tourism, we feel the strategic vision for the ‘Incredible India 2.0’ campaign announced by the Finance Ministry is a positive step. This kind of support from the government goes a long way in creating awareness and should further help India get a distinct competitive edge vis-à-vis other destinations.”

Stating tourism as an important part of the global economy and a significant employment generator, SOTC Travel MD Vishal Suri said, “The government’s initiative on digitisation and governance is expected to improve transparency and the ease of doing business, and is positive for the formal sector. The ban on cash transactions over Rs 3 lakh is a welcome move, and is expected to provide a level-playing-field (for the tourism sector).

Thomas Cook (India) COO Mahesh Iyer opined that the Budget has very little to offer to the tourism industry. “But with plans to launch Incredible India 2.0 as the next phase of growth for domestic tourism with respect to India, there is something to look forward to,” he confirmed.

In order to behold India’s picturesque landscapes on rail, the Budget has mulled steps to launch dedicated trains for tourism and pilgrimage. “India has a vast railway network and the Budget acknowledges the strength of this. One of the biggest announcements is the withdrawal of service charge on rail tickets booked through IRCTC. Focus on railway security and upgradation of services is expected to boost rail tourism,” Iyer added.

  Ease of doing business

Domestic transfer pricing only an entity enjoys specified profit-linked deduction

Threshold limit for audit of business entities which opt for presumptive income scheme hiked to Rs 2 crore

Threshold for maintenance of books for individuals and HUF hiked to turnover of Rs 25 lakh or income of Rs 2.5 lak

Foreign Portfolio Investor Category I & II exempted from indirect transfer provision

Indirect transfer provision shall not apply in case of redemption of shares or interests outside India

Commission payable to individual insurance agents exempt from TDS if income is below taxable limit

Advance tax under scheme for presumptive taxation for professionals with receipt up to Rs 50 lakh per annum can be paid in one go

Time period for revising tax return reduced to 12 months from end of financial year

Time for completion of scrutiny assessments compressed from 21 months to 18 months for 2018-19

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