Uplifting India's Travel and Tourism: Key Insights & Industry Perspectives on Union Budget 2024-25

Industry Watch | February 2, 2024 | News

Travel and Tourism Union Budget 2024-25 Thomas Cook (India) SOTC Travel Finance Minister Sitharaman

After the unveiling of the Union Budget 2024, the Travel and Tourism sector finds itself in an interesting spot. In a significant move aimed at revolutionising India's railway infrastructure and promoting tourism, Finance Minister Sitharaman announced a series of transformative initiatives in the interim budget.

The government's key announcements include converting 40,000 regular train bogies into Vande Bharat coaches, enhancing passenger safety and comfort. This expansion aims to reduce travel time, improve the passenger experience, and boost tourism nationwide. The introduction of more NAMO trains and metro rail services in cities further addresses the demand for efficient mobility. Additionally, a bold initiative offers interest-free loans to states for developing iconic tourist destinations, fostering global standards and creating local employment. The budget also allocates resources for tourism projects in islands like Lakshadweep, unlocking their untapped potential. Overall, the government's proactive approach aims to revitalize the railway and tourism sectors, driving economic growth and improving citizens' quality of life.

Providing insights into the Travel & Tourism Budget for 2024-25, Madhavan Menon, Executive Chairman of Thomas Cook (India), and Vishal Suri, Managing Director of SOTC Travel, shared their perspectives on the fiscal proposals.  

Madhavan Menon, Executive Chairman, Thomas Cook (India):

The interim Budget presented by the Finance Minister has focussed on Tourism with a multipronged approach that we believe will create a multiplier effect across aviation, tourism and allied sectors, boosting growth and employment generation. 

We welcome the announcements on airport development and expansion: having already doubled to 149 airports in the last decade, the government’s plans to boost air connectivity by the addition of 517 new routes across Tier 2-3 cities, carrying 1.3 crore passengers via the UDAN scheme, will play a critical role with vibrant hub and spoke air corridors to boost accessibility-affordability for Regional India.

Implementation of major rail connectivity corridors via the PM Gati Shakti program together with port and metro/rapid transport expansion will serve to create valuable multi modal connectivity for Tourism.

We welcome the special focus on Domestic Tourism which represents a vibrant growth driver via the government’s plan of long-term interest free loans to States; development of iconic tourism centres by States along with marketing on global standards. What was noteworthy is the reference to Spiritual Tourism and projects for port connectivity, tourism infrastructure and amenities on islands including Lakshdweep – aimed at development of India’s hidden gems and employment opportunities. 

Further, the strong capex outlay of Rs 11.11 lakh cr, a significant 4% of our GDP, will serve as a catalyst to the Country’s growth potential and job creation.

Vishal Suri, Managing Director, SOTC Travel:

The interim budget presented by Hon’ble Finance Minister has maintained status-quo on direct and indirect taxes thus keeping its impact neutral. The government has set focus on the overall travel and tourism sector via infrastructure development, green energy, sustainability and looked at diverse initiatives for domestic tourism via a strategic approach for each segment - aviation, ports (waterways) and rail to strengthen regional connectivity to tier 2 and 3 cities.

We welcome the development on the rapid expansion of air connectivity with the addition of 517 new routes across Regional India’s tier 2 and 3 cities via the UDAN scheme – this will play a key role in strengthening accessibility.

The special focus on strengthening domestic tourism via implementation of rail connectivity corridors under the PM Gati Shakti initiative and upgrading 40,000 regular train boogies into high speed Vande Bharat trains will definitely strengthen surface transportation.

The Government’s plan on focus on spiritual tourism, development of iconic tourist spots and island destinations of India including Lakshadweep (projects for port connectivity, tourism infrastructure, and amenities) will generate employment thus boosting India’s economy. What is noteworthy, is the Government’s mindful move to form a panel to tackle challenges of higher population/over tourism, especially in destinations with sensitive ecosystems.

In a significant move aimed at revolutionising India's railway infrastructure and promoting tourism, Finance Minister Sitharaman announced a series of transformative initiatives in the interim budget.

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