Struggling Tourism Industry Pins Hopes On Union Budget For Revival

Struggling Tourism Industry Pins Hopes On Union Budget For RevivalFinance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Snapshot
  • Hit by the Covid-19, tourism industry hopes the Union Budget will support its revival.

Uniform goods and services tax (GST) rate of 10 per cent on hotels and restaurants with input credit and exemption of statutory permits fee for the lockdown period among other relief measures have been sought by the tourism industry from the Union Budget 2021-22.

Amid such expectations and hope, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman would present the Budget on 1 February in Parliament, an event that will be keenly watched by millions across the country.

While all industries have faced the brunt of the pandemic effect, the tourism sector is one of the worst hit as people have avoided travelling fearing infection.

There are expectations that the government would declare some stimulus measures to revive the tourism industry.

Banks need to be instructed to give priority funding/loan at maximum of 5 per cent interest for five-10 years at least and one year tax exemption to the tourism and hospitality industry so that they are able to survive, according to the Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH) .

Tourism industry is the worst affected industry. Out of about 75 million people who are directly or indirectly employed in this industry – about 30 million have lost their jobs and about 10 million are on leave without pay, tourism expert and FAITH general secretary Subhash Goyal said.

Highlighting the plight of the people involved in the industry, Goyal said "about 53,000 travel agents, 1.3 lakh tour operators and thousands of tourist transporters and tourist guides are struggling to survive."

The federation has listed key issues affecting the industry and hoped the budget to address the concerns.

It has demanded that all statutory payments like electricity, excise fee, transport permits to be exempted for the lockdown period.

Seeking infrastructure status for the tourism and hospitality industry, the federation has also advocated GST/tax exemption for corporates to hold their conferences within India instead of abroad.

Goyal said it would be a big relief if tourism industry’s foreign exchange earnings were fully recognised as export earnings at par with merchandise export.

The demand include a global MICE bidding fund to be created so that India can bid to get more international conferences, meetings and events to take place in India and increase of service exports from India Scheme to 10 per cent on all foreign exchange earnings to members of the tourism industry for at least five years to help them to recover from the Covid-19 crisis.

The industry body has also sought that in order to encourage domestic tourism, private organisations/companies should be given tax incentives for allowing their staff to go on LTC tours.

"Like in other countries, Indian tourism industry did not receive any survival financial package from the government. Therefore, we hope that this Budget will give us some relief so that this industry can revive and millions of jobs are saved," Goyal added.

Arun Kumar Das is a senior journalist covering railways. He can be contacted at akdas2005@gmail.com.


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