New Delhi: India’s tourism industry has lauded the proposed Budget allocation of ₹2,500 crore for the financial year 2020-21. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said improvement of the tourism industry is directly related to growth and job creation.
“This is an imperative towards education and skill development of our sector (tourism) that contributes a significant 10% to India’s GDP. Additionally, (tourism) plays a critical force-multiplier role in job creation–accounting for 26.7 million jobs in 2018 and is expected to provide employment to nearly 53 million people, directly and indirectly by 2029,” said Madhavan Menon, chairman and managing director, Thomas Cook (India) Ltd.
The minister, while presenting the Budget for FY21, highlighted that India has moved up from rank 65 in 2014 to 34 in 2019 on Travel & Tourism Competitive Index of the World Economic Forum.
She said foreign exchange earnings grew 7.4% to ₹1.88 lakh crore for January-November 2019 from ₹1.75 lakh crores a year ago.
“I expect the state governments to develop a roadmap for certain identified destinations and formulate financial plans during 2021, against which specified grants will be made available to the states in 2020-21,” the minister added.
Vishal Suri, managing director, SOTC Travel also said the new personal income tax regime would put higher disposable incomes in the hands of the individuals, by allowing an option of a lower rate regime if all exemptions (including investment-linked exemptions) are foregone. “This step would induce consumer spends and inevitably help consumption across sectors, especially tourism,” he added.
Sitharaman also said more Tejas Express trains will be started to connect various iconic tourist destinations across the country. Introduced in May 2017, the Tejas-class trains are the country’s first semi-high speed fully air-conditioned trains with modern onboard facilities.
Currently, Tejas trains are operational on four routes in the country–Mumbai-Goa, Chennai Egmore-Madurai, New Delhi-Lucknow and Mumbai-Ahmedabad.
Ramesh Ramanathan, chairman and managing director, Sterling Holidays said the Budget will have a multiplier effect across the board. “In addition to the tourism Budget, the allotment of ₹1.7 lakh crore for transportation and proposal for more transport facilities including 2,000 km strategic highways along with Tejas Express trains, and 100 more airports to be developed by 2024 to support the UDAN (regional airport development ) scheme will make access to more locations easier. The golden quadrilateral (national highway network connecting four metros) will also work towards making travel in India feasible, while improving connectivity,” Ramanathan said.
Meanwhile, the culture ministry has received an outlay of ₹3,150 crore for FY21. Five archaeological sites have been identified to be developed as iconic sites with onsite museums. These include Rakhigarhi in Haryana, Hastinapur in Uttar Pradesh, Shivsagar in Assam, Dholavira in Gujarat and Adichanallur in Tamil Nadu.
The minister also announced setting up an Indian Institute of Heritage and Conservation under the culture ministry. The institute will offer disciplines such as museology and archaeology.
Apart from re-curation of the country’s oldest Indian Museum in Kolkata, four more museums will undergo renovation, the minister said. The government has also proposed setting up a tribal museum in Jharkhand and a maritime museum at Lothal, the Harrapan age maritime site near Ahmedabad by the ministry of shipping.