New Delhi, Feb 1 (IANS): Nakul Anand, Chairman of FAITH, the apex body of tourism and hospitality industry associations, said the Union Budget could have announced more direct support measures for the two sectors.
The Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality of industry (FAITH) has for a long time been demanding infrastructure status for tourism and hospitality and that the two sectors be treated on a par with merchandise exports.
It has also been calling for enhanced support from the government for global marketing, a "positive guidance on GST issues for tourism" and enhanced tax / financial support mechanisms to tourism MSMEs, which constitute more than 95 per cent of the sector.
FAITH appreciated Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's support for tourism being a transformative engine for job creation to be developed on a mission mode powered by a public-private partnership along with states and the Budget's focus on 50 tourism destinations and infrastructure.
The Federation noted that the Budget was coming on the back of a recovery from the pandemic, so it was an opportunity to strengthen the tourism, travel and hospitality industry and enable India to reclaim its global inbound tourism share, besides adding value to domestic tourism and boosting employment.
Similar mixed feelings were also expressed by Rajiv Mehra, President, Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO). He appreciated the proposal to develop 50 additional airports / heliports and the allocation Rs 79,000 crore for 100 last-mile railway projects, besides the boost to be given to the Dekho Aapna Desh and Swadesh Darshan Scheme; the development of tourism Infrastructure in villages, especially in border areas; and the assured focus on One District One Product.
But he also pointed out that "some of our members who do outbound tourism will have to close their business", now that the Tax Collection at Source (TCS) is proposed to be raised from 5 per cent to 20 per cent. "This," he said, "needs to be rolled back immediately."
He also emphasised that none of IATO's long-standing demands, such as rationalisation of GST, exemption of GST on foreign exchange earnings and refund for international tourists of the tax charged on shopping under the Tax Refund to Tourist (TRT) Scheme, have been addressed. For the last demand, Mehra pointed out, there's already a provision in the GST Act.