Tour operators in Himachal are expecting special regulations to boost the tourism industry post-Covid

STAKEHOLDERS in the Himachal Pradesh tourism business are expecting special provisions for the state in the upcoming Union Budget, which is to be presented in Parliament on February 1, Wednesday.

State tourism industry stakeholders in the region said they are hoping for certain special provisions in the budget to boost tourism industries in hill states like Himachal Pradesh.

Those dealing with small business units in capital Shimla had mixed expectations from the budget to be presented by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday. Local travel agents and hoteliers said they wanted special budgetary provisions in the field of tourism, which contributes significantly to the state’s GDP.

“We have multiple problems with our tourism industry. We hope for special provisions for hill states like Himachal, especially in the tourism sector. There are no regular flights and also no big airport where big planes can land. Both rail and air connectivity should be strengthened,” Mohender Seth, president, HP Tourism Industry Stakeholders Association, told ANI.

He added that the tourism industry has suffered heavy losses due to the Covid-19 pandemic and in small towns like Shimla, local problems are also hurting the tourism business.

“We have suffered a huge loss due to Covid. In small towns like Shimla, we have local issues that affect our business. We demand the Union Government to include us in a special tourism promotion package. Bharat Bhraman schemes should be expanded in the state,” Seth said.

Travel agents and carriers said they expect low interest rates on loans for the tourism business.

“We hope that the Union Budget will have some provisions for us. We want special and low interest rates on loans for the tourism business. We were given promises before but we didn’t get much from the banks. Post-Covid, we are in a revival phase and want more rail and air connectivity in the region. We are demanding special budgetary provisions in this direction and hope to get them,” said Kedar Dutt, a local travel agent.

The hotel business is also considering a special package to promote religious tourism and is looking for separate funds for infrastructure development.

“We are totally dependent on nature and use it for tourism. Little here is man-made. We want the government to build infrastructure, rail and air connectivity in the region. We hope the budget will help us and our business come out of the pandemic shocks,” Rajendra Singh, a hotelier, told ANI.

The budget session on Wednesday will be held in two parts. It will begin with an address by President Draupadi Murmu to the joint session of the two houses of Parliament. The Economic Review will be tabled after the President’s address.

The Union Budget 2023-24 could be the last full budget to be presented by the BJP-led central government before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

The first part of the session will be held from January 31 and will continue until February 13. It will see debates in both houses on the “motion of thanks” to the President’s address, which will conclude with a response from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Parliament will reconvene after recess for parliamentary committees to discuss the grant requests of various ministries. The second part will start on March 13 and will continue until April 6.

The money bill is passed after debating the demand for grants and marks the culmination of the budget process.

During the monsoon session, nine bills were passed by both houses of Parliament.

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