Mr. Vishal Suri, Managing Director, SOTC Travel Limited.

The Union Budget 2023-24 presented by Hon’ble Finance Minister provides a positive focus on infrastructural development/investment, digital enhancements, sustainability, agriculture, domestic tourism. We appreciate the Government’s plan of continued focus on domestic tourism, railways, new airports, heliports, water aerodromes that will improve regional connectivity and be one of the key drivers of the domestic tourism sector. 

Further the announcement on the launch of an app to enhance domestic tourism experience reiterates our country’s focus on digitization. The ‘Dekho Apna Desh’ initiative focusing on sector specific skilling and entrepreneurship development while the facilitation of tourism infrastructure under the Vibrant Villages Programme, and setting up a ‘Unity Mall’ in state capitals/ popular tourist destinations to promote ‘One District, One product’ for GI products and other handicrafts will strongly support domestic tourism.  

The travel & tourism industry supports one in 10 jobs and provides livelihoods for a significant number of people, therefore the Government’s support on prioritizing tourism with active participation from local authorities, sustainable practices and encouraging public-private partnerships is a positive pivot towards revival/road to recovery.   

However this Union Budget did not provide the travel & tourism industry the respite we anticipated with respect to rationalization of taxes. Instead the proposals increased TCS on outbound travel and other LRS transactions from 5% to 20% without any threshold exemption. In our view, such high rates of taxation are an added liability to outbound travelers and negatively impacts tour operators recovering from the pandemic. We request the Government to reconsider this proposal.  

We also hoped this budget would offer elimination of the 5 crore capping for the SEIS benefit and incentives to Corporates for organizing meetings and conference in India through partial or full tax exemptions.

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