The interim budget presented by Hon. Finance Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman on 1st February’24 has shown no respite to the Travel Agents / Tour Operators.
Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) states that various representations were made to the Finance Ministry on concerns of ease of doing business, specifically on GST, TCS and other challenges faced by the travel and tourism sector in India.
TAAI being the nodal and premier body feels that although being an interim budget pending challenges and concerns from over two years could have been addressed by the Hon’able FM, especially on the TCS levy on Overseas Tour Programme Package, which is impacting business of travel agents operating in India making them non-competitive and impacting the liquidity of the consumer / traveller.
Although announcements have been made on development and infrastructure to the Tourism Industry specifically in the North East, Island Destinations like Lakshadweep, thereby promoting investment in the sector.
We are happy that the FM spoke about Viksit Bharat and has encouraged other industries but totally ignored the travel agent and tour operators who are the catalyst in developments, enhancement and promotion of tourism, be it domestic, inbound, inland as well as outbound tourism.
Further with the increase in UDAN and aviation sector in India at large, there has been no observations noted or any directions formulated on airlines going bankrupt. TAAI has already submitted a document to the authorities on the protection of interest of the Consumers / Travellers / Travel Agents against the bankruptcy of Airlines operating in India, whereby hundreds of crores are lost by the travelling community.
Overall at the macros level Tourism Infrastructure and development has got a boost which is a long term benefit but nothing in the coming year shall benefit the trade at large.
We appreciate her views on enhancing and promoting spiritual tourism, which shall certainly lead to more employment and entrepreneurship in the sector. Additionally the Governments encouragement on development of new airports, rail corridors, roads and ports which shall enable last mile connectivity is also seen as long term growth oriented. We also acknowledge that the Government has placed MiCE, especially Business and Conference Tourism as a prime focus area but the same is not possible without appropriate infrastructure, which shall take a few years to develop.