The tourism and hospitality sector has been the worst hit, and it is now the third year in a row with practically no revenues. The sector has lost jobs, incomes, talents, and businesses are at a standstill mode. Even domestic tourism, which shows some signs of recovery, gets into a lean patch with every new COVID wave leaving everyone guessing what is coming next.
“Investments in tourism are at an all-time low and if not now, then I feel there will never be a time when the tourism sector in this country will ever get its due. Imagine the sector that generates 50 million jobs a year, contributes almost 10 per cent to India’s GDP and forms the core of large indirect taxes gets just 2,000 crores in budget allocation with no specific plan ever narrated by any Finance or Tourism minister on the plan,” points out Naveen Kundu, Managing Director, Ebixcash.
Kundu, personally, has huge expectations from this year’s budget from the Finance Minister and hopes that the Govt offers Tourism and Hospitality, the Industry status. He also mentions a few points that can ease and create a favourable environment to conduct business and reinstate the importance of the tourism sector.
- Recognise and declare the tourism sector as a priority sector for the next two years and offer it industry status.
- Provide a budget for loans with interest rates as offered to other industries, with the flexibility of re-structuring the loans at least twice due to the lean cycles observed now and then. Also, offer tariffs at par with the industry, if not lower.
- Provide tax concessions to hotels and resorts in India to boost demand for domestic tourism and inbound tourism.
- Provide tax subsidies to travel agents who promote inbound tourism (FOREX earning agencies) and offer them incentives on earning FOREX as the exports sector.
- Create a budget to appoint several large PR companies globally to promote the brand India with all its diversity and hospitality.
- Provide tax refunds to domestic travellers who spend large amounts of their vacation budgets in India.
- Offer financial tax support to corporates/associations who conduct their meetings and events in India.
- Offer direct financial support up to 1000 crores for all global companies/associations and world bodies who conduct their events, conferences, and exhibitions in India.
- Announce a state-of-the-art skill development institute on the lines of IIM, which will be India’s first Tourism University offering various courses.
- Reduce haulage on luxury trains and offer tax subsidy on operating ultra-luxury and ‘Bharat Gaurav’ trains in India.