Comments from experts belonging to tourism and infrastructure sector:
Anand Kandadai, Executive Vice President, Cleartrip:
"The budget does seem to have some promising measures and provisions for the Indian tourism and hospitality industry that has emerged as one of the key drivers of growth. Today, when India has achieved the position of being the fastest growing domestic aviation market in the world, increasing the number of airports considerably is imperative to ensure that the growth impetus does not hit an infrastructure roadblock and the momentum continues. It is heartening to see the government backing up the ambitious UDAN plan with budgetary provisions for airports. What is noteworthy is that the thought process has been comprehensive, and in addition to connectivity there is a separate mention of expanding airport capacity by five times, which is a pressing problem, for many congested airports of the country.
This budget has the much-needed approach for the creation of a holistic tourism infrastructure evident by Mr. Jaitley's mention of boosting the land and rail connectivity, a proposal for focus on safety and sanitation measures and boosting connectivity with the proposal of setting up Wi-Fi hotspots thereby covering most major areas. A mention of ecological and sustainable tourism developed would have optimized this even further though. Government's clarity of thought has translated into a clarity of intended action with the mention of connectivity upgrade to promote tourism in the North Eastern part of the country. A clarity on policy framework on land-bank monetisation for institutions such as AAI and Indian Railways that could reduce the dependency on central budget allocations is something that we were looking forward to. Some thrust on boosting the digital and payment infrastructure for sectors with big-ticket transactions like travel and a tax relief especially for indirect taxes (levied on the tourism and hospitality sector which is considerably higher than some of the major tourist destinations globally) is something that we were hopeful of hearing. We hope that government will bring these points to its consideration in addition to an optimization of GST in accommodation space in the months to come."
Kapil Goswamy, CMD, BigBreaks.com:
"Budget announcement to augment traffic handling capacity of airports in the country five times to 1 billion trips per year is definitely welcome and will help give the desired boost to tourism in the sector. Plan to improve infrastructure at 10 tourist sites in the country and for improving facilities for 110 monuments will help in better tourist experience and give a fillip to the travel sector. Now care should be taken for fast implementation of these Budget announcements. The initiatives under the UDAN scheme will help unlock tourism potential of those places that have been hitherto not been discovered. However, there is not much for the hospitality sector in the budget which is a little disappointing. The High Rates of GST on hotel tariff have not been addressed by the Government. Something to help construction of new hotels should have been included in the Budget."
Jayanth Sharma, Co-Founder and CEO, Toehold:
"Although we didn't get the GST benefit and input credit we were hoping for, I'm heartened by the other announcements for the tourism industry, particularly the plans to increase connectivity and expand or bolster related infrastructure."