Rajeev Kale: President & Country Head, Holidays, MICE, Visa – Thomas Cook (India) Limited on Union Budget

While the Union Budget 2022-23 offered significant initiatives and outlay pertaining to infrastructure development, technology, health, education and skill development, we are disappointed that the Travel & Tourism sector saw limited attention.  The recommendations  put forward by our industry to support recovery did not receive mention – including tax rationalization, GST holiday, exemption of TCS on outbound tours, reduction in indirect taxes, removal of SIES benefit capping of Rs 5 cr. The Travel & Tourism industry is a valuable contributor to India’s GDP with significant inflows of forex earning, cascading positive impact to direct and allied sectors and a catalyst to job creation and skill development and support via the Union Budget would have had a far reaching impact on the country’s recovery.

The Union Budget’s focus on expansion and modernisation of transport infrastructure, leveraging the PM GatiShakti masterplan, is a welcome move in unlocking the full potential of domestic tourism that has played a mission-critical role over the last 2 years. The investment on infrastructure  will create much needed access/connectivity to yet underleveraged but high potential locales with cascading benefits, including employment, for the catchment areas.

What is noteworthy is that the seven engines are broad-based:  covering not just roads, railways, airports and ports, but equally mass transport and waterways.

We appreciate that the Budget has highlighted priority towards enhancement of the national highways network by 25,000 km in 2022-23, expressways, metro networks, multimodal connectivity between mass transport and railways, development of 400 efficient Vande Bharat trains in the next 3 years, finalisation of draft DPRs for five river links and ropeways.

The limited relief was the extension of the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) to March 2023, with an expansion by Rs. 50,000 crores to a total of Rs. 5 lakh crore.

The Covid-era has served to accelerate focus on contactless technology and we welcome the Union Budget announcement on issuance of E-Passports by 2022-23. E-Passports will play a critical role in facilitating safe, convenient and contactless international travel. We look forward to speedy implementation of the initiative that was originally proposed in 2019.

Rajeev Kale: President & Country Head, Holidays, MICE, Visa – Thomas Cook (India) Limited

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