States to be incentivised for tourism centers; Lakshadweep infra projects on cards, ET TravelWorld

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<p>Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman</p>
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

Addressing the nation in the union interim budget announcement today, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman emphasised that states taking up the comprehensive development of tourist centers will be incentivised, thereby boosting domestic tourist figures.

“States will be encouraged to undertake the holistic development of iconic tourist centres, with a focus on branding and marketing them at a global scale. A framework for rating these centres based on the quality of facilities and services will be established to ensure excellence in visitor experiences,” she said.

Sitharaman shared that long-term interest-rate loans will be provided to states for financing these development projects on matching basis. This, she added, is to address the emerging fervour for domestic tourism.

Additionally, projects aimed at enhancing port connectivity, tourism infrastructure, and amenities in Indian islands, including Lakshadweep, are on the agenda. These initiatives, expressed by Sitharaman, are anticipated to not only spur employment opportunities but also attract investments, thereby fostering economic growth in these regions. Notably, the recent visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Lakshadweep has paved the way for enhanced development initiatives in the region, signalling a renewed focus on island tourism and infrastructure enhancement.

Further highlighting the burgeoning aspirations of the middle class to explore and travel, the Finance Minister underscored the vast opportunities for local entrepreneurship within the tourism sector, including spiritual tourism. The notable boost for spiritual tourism was following the recent inauguration of Ayodhya‘s new Ram Temple, where about 5 lakh visitors visited the city just on the congregation day.

She also reflected on how hosting the high-profile G20 meetings across 60 locations in India showcased the country’s diversity to the world. “Our economic strength has made the country an attractive destination for business and conference tourism,” the minister acknowledged.

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Speaking about the aviation sector, Sitharaman highlighted the remarkable strides made over the past decade. “The aviation sector has been galvanised in the past 10 years. The number of airports has doubled to 149, with 517 new routes added and a staggering 1.3 crore passengers served. The ambitious UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) scheme, aimed at enhancing air connectivity to tier two and tier three cities, has witnessed widespread implementation, further democratising air travel access across the country,” she added.Indian carriers, she said, have also demonstrated proactive intent by placing orders for over 1000 new aircraft, indicative of the sector’s robust growth trajectory.

“Efforts to expand existing airports and develop new ones will continue expeditiously,” she said, ensuring that the aviation infrastructure keeps pace with the burgeoning demands of the industry, while also attracting credible investors.

Highlighting India’s attractiveness to foreign investors, Sitharaman noted that FDI inflow during the period from 2014 to 2023 amounted to 596 billion USD, marking a golden era of sustained foreign investment. This figure represents a significant leap compared to the inflow witnessed from 2005 to 2014, underlining the confidence of global investors in India’s economic prospects and policy environment, she stated.

  • Published On Feb 1, 2024 at 01:24 PM IST

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