As the Budget draws closer, spokespersons of the tourism and hospitality industries talk about their expectations, some of which include, further reduction in GST and improvement of tourist facilities.
Subhash Goyal, Secretary General, FAITH
The tourism industry should be treated on a par with the export industry, particularly export of IT where software is developed here, but it is used by foreign companies. Similarly, even though the tour is here, the foreign exchange company is international. Hence, tourism should be treated as a services export and receive the same exemptions. Also, GST should be charged either at the place of origin of tour or where our office is.
Rajiv Mehra, Senior Vice President, IATO
We want the government to look at GST reforms. Even now, our main problems are with the GST, but we have given our recommendation for export status to be given to our industry. We hope that this request is considered this time, because all our details have been given to them. Similarly, there are certain issues on the taxation front as well, that have been given to them. We are following this up. Hopefully, certain things might be reflected in the new Budget in February.
Pradip Lulla, Acting President and Vice President, TAFI
We, as an association, will appreciate if tourism & travel, which contributes up to 9.5 per cent to the GDP, is given special industry status. Special incentives such as tax breaks on development of tourism in upcoming fields such as rural areas as well as agriculture will be welcome as well. Our request is to reduce GST on travel and tourism to make us more competitive on the global front.
Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, Vice President, FHRAI
The hospitality sector is at an inflection point after a decade of stunted growth and the government must capitalise on the huge potential of this sector. One of the major boosts to achieve this target is to grant an industry status to the sector on a national level and compensate states for any notional loss. The industry needs to be made eligible for tax incentives and concessions available to infrastructure industries under Section 80 I/A of the IT Act.
Jyoti Mayal, President, TAAI
We expect the finance minister to declare tourism as an industry and set up a corpus fund for the same, as well as classify hotels, resorts, and convention centres under the RBI infrastructure lending norm criteria. There is a need to develop policy mechanism for single-window clearance. The government should create a global bidding fund for enabling Indian companies to bid for M!CE events. There is also a need to enhance funding limits to raise SEIS rates to 7 per cent for foreign exchange earnings and enable SEIS to discharge GST liabilities.
Sandeep Dwivedi, Chief Operating Officer, InterGlobe Technology Quotient
There has been a spike of 4.7 per cent y-o-y in the 2018 Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEE), with an expectation to grow at 7 per cent by 2028 (Source: IBEF report on Hospitality & Tourism – Oct 2019). As our travel fraternity marvels at the recorded figures, there is no ounce of doubt how hopeful we are about amiable provisions for tourism this year. We need further expansion in infrastructure following the government’s sanction for development of 10 prominent sites into ‘Iconic’ tourist destinations. We definitely expect more focus on expansion.
Deepak Narula, Managing Director, GRN Connect
We are expecting a positive, moderate-approach Budget with the continuance of thrust on improving infrastructure across the country. There is lot to be done in the tourism sector, and an urgent need is to make India a safe and tourist-friendly country. Furthermore, visa on arrival needs faster clearances so we need some effort there as well. Our monuments need to be glorified, so a lot needs to be spent on brand building. Northeast India also needs urgent attention in terms of connectivity and safety of travellers.
Rajesh Arya, Vice President, ADTOI
We need a big gift from the finance minister for the tourism industry, in terms of relieving the tax burden on businessmen. Similarly, we want the GST regime to be revised further. We need a uniform GST because the slabs do not work well for us. Also, in the tourism sector, there are some crucial concerns that affect business, like the water crisis and pollution. There is a need for the government to invest money to deal with these issues. For domestic tourism, there is a need to increase or improve road connectivity to most destinations.
HS Duggal, Managing Director, Minar Group
Inbound tour operators have high hopes from the Budget, with a focus on push on infrastructure, connectivity, more efforts on pollution control and environment safety. Since tourism is facing headwinds, we look forward to some support in the Budget. With tourism directly dependent on air transportation, the government must consider bringing Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) under the GST regime so that cost of air travel is reduced. Another long-pending demand of operators is to be under exporters category.
Sanjeev K Nayar, MIH, General Manager, WelcomHeritage
The government should continue with its tax reforms, be it further rationalisation of the GST or personal income tax so that there is some surplus income available in the hands of the consumer to facilitate travel. Though the infrastructure has improved considerably over the years, there still remains scope for improvement. There needs to be focus on National Skill Development Corporation, to train the youth in hospitality and travel operations, as there is shortage of a skilled workforce at the bottom of the pyramid.
Pushpendra Bansal, Chief Operating Officer, Lords Hotels & Resorts
The government should strengthen its initiatives to create sustainable hospitality. This, in my opinion, is the need of the hour. It should also waive off tourist visa fee for a shorter period to increase outbound tourism. Another important aspect is the lack of adequate infrastructure. The focus should be on developing amenities like building good quality roads and constructing public restrooms on highways as well as petrol stations to make road trips safer and more women-friendly.