Union Budget 2024: Domestic Tourism Takes Priority Our middle class also now aspires to travel and explore, said the Finance Minister

By Paromita Gupta

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The travel and tourism industry is on its way to becoming the government's apple of the eye. During the Union Budget 2023-2024 presentation, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman made a few key announcements pertaining to the industry.

"To address the emerging fervour for domestic tourism, projects for port connectivity, tourism infrastructure, and amenities will be taken up on our islands, including Lakshadweep. This will help in generating employment also," said the minister in her speech.

"Our economic strength has made the country an attractive destination for business and conference tourism. Our middle class also now aspires to travel and explore," she added.

She made emphasis on spiritual tourism having local entrepreneurship opportunities.
With the recent consecration of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, coupled with PM Modi's campaign to boost Lakshadweep, encouragement for development was an expected move, "States will be encouraged to take up comprehensive development of iconic tourist centres, branding and marketing them at global scale."

The move has been welcomed by the industry and complementary players. Somesh Agarwal, Chairman and MD, Radisson Blu Palace Resort & Spa, Udaipur lauds the news for the tourism and hospitality sector. "An increase in tourism provides opportunities for cultural exchange. Visitors will engage with local customs, traditions, and arts, fostering a mutual understanding and appreciation of cities like Udaipur's unique cultural identity. An example of this was the G20 summit, which contributed to a rise in Udaipur tourism," he shares.

In 2022, India saw an influx of 6.19M Foreign Tourist Arrivals. An estimated Foreign Exchange Earnings worth USD 16,926M was seen by the country in 2022.

Chirag Agrawal, Co-Founder, TravClan feels announced measures such as long-term loans to states will foster long-term development and unlock India's tourism potential. Echoing Agarwal's views, he shares "This development will not just invite the world to explore our heritage but also ignite local economies and our pride!"

With this emphasis, tourism is being acknowledged as an important driver of the economy to spur employment and GDP. "The enhanced focus of the Government for promotion of MICE, religious tourism, iconic tourism centres and domestic tourism will lay the foundation of tourism development in the Amrit Kal and equip the sector to achieve the ambitious target of welcoming 100 million tourists by 2047," shares Pradeep Shetty, President of Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India.

Number of domestic tourist visits to all states/UTs in India in 2022 touched 1731.01M.

Nishant Pitti, CEO & Co-Founder, EaseMyTrip shares, "The dedicated efforts towards developing aviation and rail infrastructure, especially through the commendable initiatives of UDAN and the PM Gati Shakti scheme, encouraging States to promote iconic tourists' centres by providing interest-free loans are noteworthy."

The boost in airports will work towards tourism.

"The addition of 517 routes and orders for 1000+ aircraft by Indian carriers signify a monumental leap. Furthermore, the government's pledge to take up projects for port connectivity and tourism infrastructure for the holistic development of Indian islands such as Andaman & Nicobar Islands is a promising step towards unlocking their true tourism potential," shares Jaikar Singh, Director, Symphony Resorts.

"We are on the way to compete with the best in the world in terms of connectivity and its associated benefits, both direct and indirect. This includes the promotion and expansion of spiritual tourism, mass transit corridors, better connectivity to remote areas and an increased GDP by promotion of industrial corridors," adds Harsh Varshneya, Director and Principal Architect, STHAPATI.

While religious and heritage tourism is set to experience a massive boost (Ram Mandir is expected to draw 50 million visitors annually), leisure tourism also holds the potential. "By directing focus to adventure as well as leisure tourism (apart from religious and heritage tourism), we can nurture diverse experiences and position India as a premier destination for unique and sustainable travel opportunities, especially among thrill-seeking travellers," said Dhimant Bakshi, CEO, Imagicaaworld Entertainment Ltd.

Paromita Gupta

Features Writer with Entrepreneur India

Covering news and trends in AI and Metaverse segments. An avid book reader running her personal blog on the side. You may reach me at paromita@entrepreneurindia.com. 

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