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Union Budget FY23, A Complete Lacklustre

The Union Budget 2022 is a complete lacklustre one for the travel and tourism industry. Except the extension of ECLGS for MSMEs until 2023, the Budget is virtually silent for the travel & tourism industry. The Economic Survey which was released just one day before the Budget admitted that the travel, tourism and hospitality sector still had a long road to recovery. Naturally, the players of the industry hoped that there will be some tangible direct relief in the Budget. But that hasn’t happen and the Government remains ambivalent. Hence, the stakeholders of the industry reacted sharply.

Ajay Prakash, President, TAFI
We live in hope and die in despair! After the Union Tourism Minister reported that the industry lost 21.5 million jobs in the first 3 quarters of 2020, after the Economic Survey admitted that the travel, tourism and hospitality sector still had a long road to recovery, one had hoped that at least after the tribulations of the last 22 months there would be some tangible direct relief, but that hasn’t happened.Our demand for infrastructure status has fallen on deaf years. MoT has an ambitious plan and an audacious vision for India@2047. But who will service those anticipated numbers of tourists if tourism businesses are driven out of business?

Jyoti Mayal, President, TAAI
Our trade has been ignored once again. We suffered tremendously due to the pandemic and it was expected that the Government would at least work towards positive upliftment of the travel & tourism in India, which they always portray as a priority? In our representations to the Finance Minister we had requested for GST input credits be made available across states for hotels and travel-tour operators. We were also expecting to the least that travel and tourism be brought under the concurrent list for industry status.

Rajiv Mehra, President, IATO

Most disappointingly none of our concerns found mention in the budget presented. Just few years ago we were earning huge foreign exchange for the government and in this hour of despair we expected some handholding by the government. An extension of the loan under ECLGS has been announced, but it is of no use for the inbound tour operators as they are not able to pay EMIs of the loan they have already taken.

Aashish Gupta, Consulting CEO, FAITH
It’s a missed opportunity. The union budget provides some relief and medium to long term infrastructure measures to stressed tourism travel & hospitality industry but there was an immediate opportunity for more direct intervention to support the highly stressed tourism travel and hospitality companies and their employees.

Madhavan Menon, MD, Thomas Cook (India) Limited

The Union Budget has been disappointing. It made no reference to the industry’s recommendations to aid revival. The Budget made no reference to the industry’s recommendations to aid revival, including rationalization of taxes (a complete GST holiday, exemption of TCS on outbound tours, reduction in indirect taxes), removal of SIES benefit capping of INR 5 crore. For a sector that is a key contributor to the GDP and brings in valuable foreign exchange, a stimulus would have created significant value in supporting the country’s road to recovery and growth.

Aditya Chamaria, MD, Damodar Ropeways & Infra Limited

The Budget’s focus on improving connectivity, especially through sustainable modes of transport such as ropeways, will take India on a path of growth, help in increasing tourism and lead to innovation in the cable car industry.

Vishal Suri, Managing Director, SOTC Travel
The two noteworthy announcements of issuance of e-passports and the expansion of the ECLGS scheme for the hospitality sector will help boost the travel and tourism industry. However, this Union Budget did not provide the industry the respite we anticipated. We hoped this Budget would offer incentives to Corporates for organising meetings and conference in India through partial or full tax exemptions.

Rahi Vaghani, Managing Director, Monteria Resort Pvt. Ltd

We are welcoming the initiatives announced in the new fiscal Nudget. The 400 new Vande Bharat trains and ropeway projects signify the government’s commitment towards bettering our tourism infrastructure. The extension of the ECLG scheme till 2023 with an additional corpus of INR 50,000 crore dedicated to hospitality and related sectors should provide relief to most establishments especially the smaller ones.

Jurgen Bailom, CEO and President, Waterways Leisure Tourism Pvt Ltd

While the travel and tourism industry has suffered significantly through the pandemic, it has also received an encouraging boost in the form of domestic travel. This momentum must be retained. Indians are travelling in India and choosing local destinations. We hope there are mindful considerations in place for the industry overall and especially cruising: which is a fairly new and unique offering in the subcontinent. With a coastline as vast as glorious India’s, cruising could grow by leaps and bounds and this dream will be a reality once the government further supports its gargantuan potential.

Shikhar Aggarwal, Joint MD, BLS International
We would like to applaud the government for this progressive announcement today about the introduction of e-Passports using embedded chip to be rolled out in 2022-23. A well thought initiative like this will help to boost the overall travel industry and also ease out the process for overseas travel and augment global mobility.

Daniel D’souza, President & Country Head, SOTC Travel
While we are certain that the modern infra developments of roads, railways, airports, ports, waterways, and the national ropeway project mentioned under the Prime Minister’s PM Gati Shakti plan will be the key drivers of domestic tourism economy, the industry would have benefitted if the government extended more direct and immediate support to the sector. We had requested the government for respite which were unfortunately not addressed and would have aided to the revival of the industry.

Dhruv Shringi Co-Founder and CEO, Yatra.com
We are grateful that the government has taken relevant measures to revive the travel and hospitality industry as it is one of the major contributors to the growth of our economy. The extension of ECLGS services, as well as an increased cover for the hospitality sector, will definitely bring in the much-required relief. Moreover, the rollout of e-passports and the National Ropeways Development Programme will be beneficial for the tourism sector as well. Yatra.com remains optimistic that the industry will continue to see buoyant growth driving overall economic growth in the country.

Zubin Saxena, Managing Director and Vice President Operations, South Asia – Radisson Hotel Group

We welcome the Union Budget and the allocation of strategic aid that will enable the speedy recovery of the hospitality sector. The extension of the ECLGS with an increased cover of INR 5 lakh crores for the hospitality sector is a positive move. With domestic travel picking pace, we believe that the government’s highway expansion plans will facilitate accessibility and strengthen this demand further.

Ronojoy Dutta, Whole Time Director and CEO, IndiGo
We expect that the Budget would enable India to achieve growth estimate of 9.2%. We welcome the new incentives of issuing of E-passport and introduction of digital currency. The government’s relentless focus on national transportation infrastructure development with the PM Gatti Shakti plan will strengthen the much-needed multimodal connectivity. Having said that, we were expecting tax concession to the aviation industry with cut on ATF excise duty and allocation of concessional finance to airlines to help us come out of the pandemic.

Rikant Pittie, Co-founder- EaseMyTrip

International travel has been severely impacted by the pandemic, which is why we are pleased with the introduction of e-passports with embedded chips. This will provide a big boost to travel and add a level of convenience for international travelers. Additionally, the expansion of the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme by Rs 50,000 crore to Rs 5 Lakh crore will enable the small travel operators and stakeholders within the travel and tourism industry to reel back from the disruptive impact of the pandemic.

Aloke Bajpai, Group CEO & Co-founder, ixigo
International travel is likely to recover soon despite the progress being slowed by the current variant. The introduction of innovative initiatives like e-passports will boost security and will enhance the convenience of international travelers by cutting down long queues at immigration counters. This will help support a faster revival of international travel in a pandemic-driven environment. Extension of ECLGS will also provide additional support to the hospitality industry which has borne the maximum brunt of the pandemic.

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