Mumbai, February 1, 2017

Industry players today hailed the government’s proposal to establish five special tourism zones alongwith the focus on rural infrastructure development and introduction of bio-toilets in the Union Budget 2017-18. SOTC Travel Managing Director Vishal Suri said five special tourism zones to be set up in partnership with the states along with the launch of the second worldwide Incredible India campaign will help improve inbound tourism.

Suri further said the ban on cash transaction over Rs 3 lakh is a welcome move and will provide a level playing field. Thomas Cook (India) COO Mahesh Iyer opined that this Budget has very little to offer to the tourism industry, but with plans to launch Incredible India 2.0, there is something to look forward to.

“India has a vast railway network and the Railway Budget acknowledges the strength of this. One of the biggest announcements is the withdrawal of service charge on rail tickets (which) will lead to more bookings and will enable the consolidation of a digital economy,” he said.

Emphasis on safety and sanitation by introduction of bio-toilets, which will increase passenger comfort, is also an encouraging move, Iyer said. Cox and Kings Director Peter Kerkar said infrastructure, being very crucial for the tourism sector, was the most important themes in Union Budget 2017. “Road and rail infrastructure are crucial in terms of boosting tourism as these are widely used mode of transport in India….stepping up the allocation for national highways, announcement to launch dedicated trains for pilgrimage and service charge withdrawal on booking of rail tickets are welcoming moves,” he added.

He said the company is positive about focus on rural infrastructure development and sees it as a scope to promote rural tourism even further, especially for inbound tourists.
RCI India Managing Director Pali Badwal said post-Budget the industry hopes the number of inbound tourists will grow and India will become more accessible to global travellers.

However, Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI) President Dilip Datwani said the tourism sector has been ignored. “There is no clarity on the proposal to establish five tourism zones….Despite acknowledging tourism’s potential in creating a multiplier effect for economy, the FM hasn’t really marked out anything significant for its promotion,” he said.

[The Financial Express]