Tourism, aviation & hospitality industry stakeholders share reactions, ET TravelWorld

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The recent interim budget presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has sparked optimism and enthusiasm among industry leaders in India’s travel, tourism, aviation, and hospitality sectors. With a focus on driving economic growth, enhancing infrastructure, and promoting tourism, the budget is expected to usher in significant opportunities for growth and development across these industries.

Implications for Various Sectors
Sitharaman’s budget announcements have been hailed for their potential to have far-reaching implications. Increased infrastructure spending and incentives for tourism development are seen as key drivers of economic growth and job creation. The emphasis on regional connectivity, island tourism, and iconic tourist centres reflects a renewed commitment to showcasing India’s diverse cultural and natural heritage, presenting significant opportunities for expansion.

Industry Reactions:
Key industry stakeholders have shared their immediate reactions to the interim budget, expressing optimism and appreciation for the government’s initiatives.

Rajat Mahajan, Partner, Deloitte India, highlighted the budget’s recognition of tourism as an important investment sector. While applauding the focus on iconic places and long-term interest-free financing for states, Mahajan also noted areas for improvement, such as increased marketing spends and specific reforms for the sector.

Sandeep Arora, Director, Brightsun Travel, commended the budget’s emphasis on domestic tourism and interest-free loans for states. Arora sees this as a positive step to boost domestic tourism and showcase India’s unique destinations to the world.

Harish Khatri, MD & Founder, India Assist, expressed enthusiasm for India’s global recognition in hosting successful G20 meetings and highlighted the rising demand for travel assistance services. He lauded the government’s initiatives to empower states in developing iconic tourist centers and ensure exceptional visitor experiences.

Aditya Sanghi, CEO & CO-Founder, Hotelogix, applauded the budget’s commitment to advancing tourism and enhancing the quality of traveler experiences through strategic investments in infrastructure and technology.

William Hall, VP of Marketing & Digital, RCI EMEA, APAC & India, expressed enthusiasm for the government’s emphasis on making significant investments in the tourism industry. He highlighted the opportunities for local entrepreneurship and the potential to elevate standards in the tourism sector.

Kush Kapoor, CEO, Roseate Hotels & Resorts, underscored the strategic move to reshape India’s MICE landscape by encouraging states to develop iconic tourist centers. Kapoor sees immense promise in turning these centers into hubs for corporate events, thereby boosting demand for accommodation and related services.

Shamsher Dewan, Senior VP & Group Head – Corporate Ratings, ICRA commended the government’s continued focus on the tourism sector, noting the structural measures proposed to bolster domestic hotel demand. He highlighted key proposals such as the holistic development of tourist destinations under ‘Challenged Based Destination Development’ and the promotion of sustainable tourism through schemes like Swadesh Darshan. Dewan also emphasized the importance of improving infrastructure, connectivity, and overall economic development to support hotel demand, especially for MSME players.

Manish Rathi, Co-founder and CEO, IntrCity SmartBus underscored the critical importance of efficient transportation and connectivity in driving tourism growth. He praised the provision of long-term interest-free loans to states for infrastructure development, noting its potential to enhance visitor experiences and showcase the unique characteristics of each destination. Rathi also highlighted the progressive approach to tap into the domestic market’s potential while empowering local communities and fostering socio-economic progress.

Budget 2024 reactions: Industry lauds govt initiatives for tourism & infra push, demands further incentives

The finance minister underscored the importance of promoting tourism in India by announcing a framework for rating iconic tourist centres based on the quality of facilities and services. She added that long-term interest-rate loans will be provided to states for comprehensive development and branding of these centres, fostering domestic tourism and attracting foreign visitors. Industry leaders and stakeholders welcomed the government’s initiatives and shared their reactions on the interim budget with ETTravelWorld. Read more…

Sudeep Jain, MD, SWA, IHG Hotels and Resorts welcomed the budget’s focus on domestic tourism and infrastructure development, foreseeing increased footfall from both domestic and global travellers. He emphasized the opportunities presented by enhanced connectivity and the government’s push for conference and business tourism post-G20 summit. Jain expressed readiness to strategically expand IHG’s presence in emerging markets and cater to diverse travelers with their portfolio of brands.

Nikhil Sharma, Market MD, Eurasia, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts hailed the budget’s initiatives to boost domestic tourism through interest-free loans and enhanced infrastructure, especially in iconic tourist spots like Bodh Gaya and Ayodhya. He highlighted the potential benefits for the middle class and the fortification of the tourism industry, contributing to economic growth and offering new opportunities for businesses and travellers alike.

Liberatha Kallat, CMD, DreamFolks Service welcomed the budget’s strategic emphasis on enhancing connectivity and bolstering tourism infrastructure, noting its pivotal role in driving the nation’s growth. She praised the ambitious initiative of doubling airports and modernizing railways, recognizing it as a significant leap forward in domestic accessibility. Overall, Kallat expressed excitement about the positive outlook for India’s travel and tourism sector in the year ahead, fueled by the government’s initiatives to enhance connectivity and promote tourism to diverse destinations across the country.

Unni Bhaskar, MD, Uno Technology welcomed the government’s emphasis on the aviation sector and its commitment to ‘Viksit Bharat’ by 2047. He lauded the focus on air connectivity, airport expansion, and investments in research and innovation, foreseeing positive implications for the industry. Bhaskar expressed eagerness to contribute to the growth of the aviation sector and collaborate with government and private sector partners for technological advancements.

Shikhar Aggarwal, Joint MD, BLS International highlighted the strategic importance of encouraging states to invest in and enhance iconic tourist spots to boost foreign receipts and create employment opportunities. He praised the government’s focus on infrastructure development and connectivity projects, anticipating a substantial increase in inbound travelers. Aggarwal also noted the potential of spiritual tourism to contribute to the industry’s growth and India’s overall economic progress.

Somesh Agarwal, Chairman and MD, Radisson Blu Palace Resort & Spa, Udaipur lauded the positive impact of the budget on the tourism and hospitality sector, especially the development of iconic tourist spots and enhancements to infrastructure. He emphasized the importance of sustainable tourism practices to preserve cultural integrity while fostering economic growth. Agarwal expressed anticipation for the implementation of these initiatives to advance the tourism sector in India.

Kavinder Singh, MD & CEO, Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India highlighted the significant emphasis placed on the development of the travel and tourism sector in the budget. He anticipated tourism to play a substantial role in employment generation and overall economic growth. Singh welcomed measures such as destination branding and connectivity improvements, emphasizing their potential to boost domestic tourism. He reaffirmed Club Mahindra’s alignment with the government’s vision and commitment to providing magical experiences across India.

Budget 2024: TAAI expresses disappointment, says tour operators left ignored

According to TAAI, despite numerous representations made to the Finance Ministry regarding ease of doing business, particularly regarding GST, TCS, and other industry challenges, the interim budget overlooks these pressing issues. The imposition of Tax Collected at Source (TCS) on Overseas Tour Programme Packages has particularly hit travel agents hard, rendering them non-competitive and affecting consumer liquidity.

Overall Impact
The interim budget’s focus on tourism infrastructure, connectivity, and promotion is expected to bolster India’s position as a global tourist destination. Key measures such as interest-free loans for states, the development of iconic tourist spots, and investments in infrastructure are anticipated to drive growth and create employment opportunities across sectors.

With continued government support and collaboration from the private sector, the travel, tourism, aviation, and hospitality industries are poised for sustained growth and development in the years ahead. Industry stakeholders eagerly await further details in the upcoming full budget, anticipating a promising roadmap for the future of these sectors in India.

  • Published On Feb 2, 2024 at 07:26 PM IST

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