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Thursday, 20 June, 2019, 16 : 25 PM [IST]

Search for a High-Impact Action Plan

In the first meeting with Government Secretaries convened by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, the Cabinet Secretary, PK Sinha assigned them two important tasks—prepare a 5-year plan and suggest ‘one significant and impactful decision’ for the sector which could be included in the 100-day Agenda of the new government. What could be that ‘one path-breaking’ decision that the Tourism Ministry could propose to the Cabinet Secretary which can benefit the business as well as the sector, and also Destination Incredible India? TravelBiz Monitor tried to ascertain the views and observations of the leading lights of the travel, tourism, hospitality and aviation industries in this regard. A large section of the respondents suggested further simplification of the Visa regime like Visa on Arrival and a Visa fee waiver, while few others proposed rationalisation of GST rates. Presenting here are the collective views of the industry...

T C Guruprasad, CEO & Managing Director, EbixCash World Money Limited

The Centre under Modi 2.0 seems to be on target with larger objectives right from the Day 1. The steps announced and the timelines set for ministries and secretaries are crystal clear and follow a corporate-style approach. The Ease of Living and Ease of Doing Business concepts are so strong that once implemented will start attracting large capital flows and investments into India which will propel growth. As a corollary to the Make in India concept, fresh capital flows will enable corporations to step up production capabilities and thereby increase exports. This will directly fuel foreign travel and will be a major boost to the travel, forex, remittance and related industries.

Rajesh Magow, Co-Founder & CEO-India, MakeMyTrip

One of the areas that require immediate attention of the new government is infrastructure development that will support and promote tourism growth. Be it ease of land acquisition via PPP model to develop world-class infrastructure, smoothen last mile connectivity or setting up of facilities keeping tourists in mind - the focus on improving infrastructure for tourism growth cannot be over emphasized. With a robust travel infrastructure in place, Indian travel and tourism sector will most certainly be successful in creating a wide-ranging positive impact on the country’s ‘socio-economic’ growth.

Vishal Suri, Managing Director, SOTC Travel

The government needs to review the aviation policy and address the challenges especially bilateral policy, and help create an ecosystem that recognises and supports the aviation industry’s viability. Rationalising the GST rate for hotels and incentivising the private sector will give a much needed boost to the sector, driving growth and generating employment.

Manav Thadani, Co-Founder, Hotelivate

One single factor that can be easily implemented is making visa-free travel to India for the next 5 years. This will go a long way in boosting tourism into India and will pay off by generating additional taxes for the government in place of what they make on visa fees

Lally Mathews, Director, Vacation Travels

One of the most important thing that the government can do is to waive off the visa fee, at least for six months or so initially as a pilot basis. The Thailand model is before us. Although, the e-visa has helped, but there are still hassles. The government is talking about 20 million inbound by 2020. Everyone knows that the target is unachievable in the present circumstances. Therefore, visa waiver is the best bet.

Rohit Walter, Brand Leader - FCM Incoming

The cost of the India tourist visa needs to be further relaxed. When compared with its other South East Asian counterparts like Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, it is still on the higher side. This decision will boost the number of inbound travellers and will also aid the economy.

Mahesh Iyer, Executive Director & CEO, Thomas Cook (India) Ltd.

Given the recent developments and challenges faced by the aviation sector, we believe there is an urgent need for a holistic view and corrective measures to be taken in the interest of the larger tourism, hospitality and business environment.

Jyoti Mayal, Hon. Secretary General, TAAI

The tax structure needs to be looked into on priority to achieve tourist numbers. On the domestic front, there should be zero rate GST on tourism services and products, and the outbound industry should also be at par with the deemed export industry.

Biji Eapen, President – IAAI

Implementation of a national law for uniform air tickets across India will create a healthy business environment by maintaining price parity. Gulf States reserve 7% fee by decree and countries like Bangladesh and Japan are providing 7-9% commission. In India cargo agencies are legally paid 5% commission, but travel agents are deprived of their lawful remuneration.

Jurgen Bailom, President & CEO, Jalesh Cruises

The cruise industry will benefit greatly from a drastic reduction or complete waiver of the Goods and Service Tax given that operators are already paying port taxes which are substantially higher compared to other countries. With India aiming at 4 million passengers in next 10 years and developing this sunshine industry, there is a need to expedite the process of infrastructure upgradation across key ports to enhance the guest experience.

Sharat Dhall, COO (B2C),

We would like to see the Government increase focus to improving the country’s infrastructure and also a need for investment in marketing and promotion of heritage destinations since they serve as a major tourist attraction for visitors alike. Development of airports and reasonable air fares are important to increase the tourist inflow to underserved locations. It would be a big boost to the airline industry if the tariffs on ATF were reduced so as to keep fares reasonable and drive passenger growth while ensuring the financial viability of the carriers.

Subhash Goyal, Chairman - STIC Travel Group & Hon. Secretary - FAITH

The government should exempt foreign exchange earnings by tourism from the ambit of GST and other taxes. Apart from this, it is important to declare 2020-2021 as ‘Visit India Year’ and at the same time exempt tourists from paying visa-fee, the way Thailand has done. Apart from this, it is important to open skies and allow as many international airlines who want to fly in India. In order to attract them, it is imperative to ensure that tax on ATF should not be more than 1%. Besides this, charges for airport, landing and navigation should be at par with our neighbouring countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

Ankit Rastogi, Vice President - Accommodation and Activities, Cleartrip

A decision that the government should take that can completely change the face of Indian tourism is fuel the farmer through Experiential Rural Tourism. This can be achieved by making registration of homestays easy in rural areas, empowering panchayats with funds for formation, activation, maintenance and promotion, making internships mandatory in fields of Rural Tourism. On one hand, it will help fill for the paucity of hotel rooms to scale tourism, making these more affordable during peak season and on the other bridge the urban-rural divide, reducing the migration to cities for jobs.

Rajesh Mudgill, Hon. Secretary, IATO

During summer time, when the business is low, the government should announce free Visa on Arrival. That can really make a difference to the tourism in the country. The government should think on those lines to make India a 365-day destination.

PP Khanna, President, ADTOI

Domestic Tourism which is backbone of the Indian tourism industry needs some thrust by both Centre and State hovernments to create an equitable distribution for prosperity. Currently, the main thrust is given for the growth of inbound tourism. The need of the hour is to bring Tourism under Concurrent list so that for Centre and states to work in tandem to bring some remarkable change.

Dharmesh Advani, Treasurer, ETAA

The key for growth of the sector would be constant efforts in implementation of the policies, schemes and programmes that have been designed and launched by the government. We as an association strongly believe, the revenue generated from tourism is one such solution, provided it is regulated and managed in a responsible manner.

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