The government has laid out the interim budget for 2019. Union Finance Minister Piyush Goel’s speech in the parliament made no direct reference to the ‘T’ word, a contrast to PM’s mention of tourism (it was one of the 5 Ts enunciated by PM Modi) on several occasions during his tenure. Notably, however, infrastructural development, regional connectivity, most notably UDAN, Sagarmala and Digital India, among others have been adequately stressed upon in the latest budget. Road connectivity has been given fair attention. Northeast has yet again been provided with a hiked budgetary allocation. Also, over one lakh villages are expected to join the internet platform soon. All of it is likely to have a sizable impact on travel and, consequently, tourism in the times ahead.
We have pieced together reactions from industry captains on the budget 2019. Excerpts:
Peter Kerkar, Group CEO, Cox & Kings
The move by the government to increase the tax exemptions will lead to additional savings thereby leading to more discretionary spends and travel and tourism can be one of the beneficiaries. The overall emphasis on improving rural connectivity with an outlay of Rs. 190 billion will lead to easier access to key tourism destinations which are located in rural and semi-rural areas. Furthermore, the government’s continued emphasis on the North East by allocating additional resources to the region will dramatically improve the connectivity and give a boost to tourism.
Chander Baljee, Managing Director, Royal Orchid Hotels
The interim budget focused on overall growth of the country. The exemption of income tax for middle- and lower-class segment of the society will increase the disposable income, which inline will trigger demand across consumer-focused industries. At Royal Orchid Hotels, we are focused on expanding our footprint all over India. The continuous and steady growth in infrastructure will help boost travel among the masses thus increasing the business for hospitality and tourism sector.
J.B Singh, President and CEO, InterGlobe Hotels
The union budget has a positive ring to it and lays down the roadmap for robust growth. 100th airport opening in India, number of flyers which has doubled in the last five years and 27 km of roadways being built everyday (the fastest in the world) have all meant that more and more people are travelling than ever before and thus the demand for quality accommodation which is on the rise.
Ritesh Agarwal, Founder & Group CEO, OYO Hotels & Homes
This Budget makes a strong promise to the people to India, which I hope will be backed by an equally strong delivery, especially in the areas of job creation and addressing the skill-talent gap. The announced tax breaks, together with low average inflation, are likely to spur domestic demand and spending, and inject liquidity in the market. This is great news for sectors such as hospitality and travel. The announcements on bridging the digital divide and improving efficiency through technology are also welcome.
Ankur Bhatia, Executive Director Bird Group
This budget while announcing financial sops for MSME’s, farm and health sectors that form the backbone of the economy and tax relief for the middle class, also sufficiently prioritised infrastructure for railways and airports by allocating hefty investment to add fillip to ongoing progress. For airlines, the business has grown exponentially in the last year as UDAN Yojana has made travel possible for anybody and everybody. This has put an unexpected burden on airports severely crowding them. There is an urgent need to upscale existing airports and introduce the stipulated 100-mark operational airports soon, to cater to an ever-increasing demand.
Shikhar Aggarwal, Joint Managing Director, BLS International
The interim budget appears balanced and forward-looking. The focus on creating digital infrastructure in villages and expanding common service centers to digitally deliver services to citizens is a very positive move. My own company is amongst the pioneers in this area and we know how it can help increase efficiencies for Citizens as well as for Government officials, while also creating employment in the local eco-system. Artificial Intelligence and machine learning are becoming increasingly important for business and setting up of the national center for artificial intelligence along with the development of the national AI portal are very welcome. It will further improve the ability to handle large data efficiently and with greater data security.