Hotel Association of India (HAI) has rued that allocation of Rs 2,500 crore on tourism promotion in 2020-21 Budget is not sufficient given the sector's immense potential and the substantive growth recorded in foreign exchange earnings in tourism sector.
Foreign exchange earnings in tourism sector has grown from Rs 1.75 trillion to Rs 1.88 trillion between January and November 2019. Factoring in the encouraging FDI inflows and outbound Indian tourist splurge on foreign travel, tourism promotion deserved a higher allocation, the industry body felt.
“We had already brought to the notice of the Union finance ministry that Rs 9,000 crore is being spent by Indians traveling abroad on holidays because India is lacking infrastructure required for the tourism sector. More good hotels at iconic destinations and domestic tourist locations are not available within the country and do not have sufficient hotels. It was proposed to give incentives up to three-star category hotels to enable Indian hospitality sector to compete with neighbouring countries to make tourism a major foreign exchange earning source for the country,” said J K Mohanty, secretary, HAI and chairman (eastern region), Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO).
HAI welcomed the Budgetary announcement of developing five archaeological sites at Rakhigarhi in Haryana, Hastinapur in Uttar Pradesh, Sivasagar in Assam, Dholavira in Gujarat and Adichanallur in Tamil Nadu, stating that iconic sites with on-site museums will definitely help the tourism sector. However, it lamented the omission of sites of historical and religious import in Odisha such as Sun Temple at Konark, Jagannath Temple at Puri and Dhauli, the seat of Buddhist peace pagoda on Bhubaneswar's periphery.
Flagging the positives in the Budget for the tourism sector, HAI lauded the Government's decision to pledge Rs 100 trillion for infrastructure and creating a national infrastructure pipeline by improving railways, airports, national highways, train connectivity to iconic tourist destinations improving water ways by connecting rivers and building 100 more airports to support UDAN scheme.
“Further, the grant of Rs 1.7 trillion to the transport infrastructure sector would definitely have positive impact on tourism sector. The declaration of the new Economy for Data Center Parks in PPP (public private partnership) mode and digital connectivity of 100,000 gram panchayats through Bharat Link, for which Rs 6,000 crore has been provided made will definitely improve connectivity and have a positive impact on the tourism industry,” said Mohanty, who is also the chairman of Hotel & Restaurant Association of Odisha (HRAO).
Moreover, the introduction of National Mission on Quantum Technologies and Applications for opening up new frontiers in computing, communications, cyber security with wide-spread applications is a new initiative by the Modi government to boost the national economy. That apart, the proposal for more Tejas Express-type trains to connect tourist destination is a good move.