Budget 2023 proposals to boost domestic travel and tourism industry

Visitors at the Rock Garden in Chandigarh. AFP

The global tourism sector has suffered a setback during pandemic-induced lockdowns and social distancing norms. In 2022, the sector received a boost with unlocking phases and fully operational international and domestic flights. To further boost the sector’s growth, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a mixed bag of proposals in the budget for India’s travel and tourism industry.

The travel sector, a key area of ​​focus in the budget

The Finance Minister has allocated Rs. 2,400 crores for the tourism industry, which is equal to the budget allocation for 2022-2023.However, the allocation was reduced to Rs. 1,343 crore, in the revised budget estimate later in the same period. Considering the budget allocation, the sector has been introduced as one of the key focus areas for the government. He believes that the active participation of states and public-private partnerships will lead to the promotion of tourism in mission mode.

The government has announced its decision to launch a challenge-based model to select at least 50 destinations across India. This is an extremely welcome step in developing a world-class tourism experience in the country. There will be a holistic focus not only on hard infrastructure, such as physical connectivity, but also on the softer aspects of providing tourism experiences, such as the quality of travel agents and the safety of tourists. As a result, the proposed destination rankings will help promote friendly competition between destinations to outperform their peers.

Details of 50 destination proposals are pending

Although the industry is yet to receive the exact details of the scheme, it still demonstrates a sense of optimism due to the success of a similar model used for the Swachh Bharat City Rankings. The positive impact of city rankings on cleanliness in Indian cities is largely due to the sense of competition introduced by the scheme.

In a survey conducted by Local Circles in September-October ’22, about 53 per cent of the respondents felt that the scheme had led to an improvement in civic sentiment among the general public. Such a fundamental level change will go a long way in providing a true ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ experience to guests at these destinations.

Schemes were launched for the tourism sector

Tourism promotion undertaken in a mission mode with the active participation of States and Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) will create another wave of positivity in promoting the growth of the domestic sector. Besides, other schemes – ‘Dekho Apna Desh’, ‘Swadesh Darshan’ and the idea of ​​setting up ‘Unity Malls’ in state capitals are likely to boost tourism in the country.

India offers immense tourist attractions for domestic and international travelers. The sector is yet to reveal a huge potential with untapped opportunities.

Youth job prospects

Encouraging the growth of the sector holds huge opportunities for job creation and entrepreneurship for young people. Also, the idea of ​​reviving 50 additional airports, helipads, hydrofoils and advanced airstrips will potentially improve regional air connectivity, which will prove to be an extremely encouraging step in promoting domestic travel and tourism.

No tax relief measures have been announced

The Union Budget seeks to boost the growth of the sector, but the industry still expresses mixed feelings as demands for tax concessions are not considered by the government. Having said that, if the announced budget is disbursed immediately and becomes operational, the sector may see the flip side of the coin and continue on a growth trajectory.

The writer is the co-founder of Alike.io.— an economy-based travel booking platform. He tweets @AshishSidhra @joinalike. Opinions expressed are personal.

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