FM’s interim budget reflects a welcome focus on the overall travel and tourism sector: Mahesh Iyer

Sharing his perspective on the interim budget, Mahesh Iyer, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, Thomas Cook (India), says, “The FM’s interim budget reflects a welcome focus on the overall travel and tourism sector – demonstrating its significant value as a powerful economic growth engine and employment generator. The government’s aim to accelerate infrastructure development is transformative and while featuring the current doubling to 149 airports, the Budget has focussed on air connectivity with 517 new routes across Tier 2-3 cities, carrying 1.3 crore passengers via the UDAN scheme; conversion of 40,000 bogies into Vande Bharat, enhancement of NAMO trains and metro connectivity – valuable in ensuring efficient and sustainable mobility solutions – especially with respect to addressing the powerhouse of Regional India. Additionally, setting aside Rs. 85,000 crore for new greenfield airports is key in creating a world-class travel infrastructure.

We commend the Budget’s focus on spiritual tourism which will serve as a force multiplier in catalysing this strongly emerging segment while uplifting local communities and the ecosystem around India’s pilgrimage circuits. Spiritual Tourism, we believe, will create critical momentum to Domestic Tourism and boost the government’s intent of “Dekho Apna Desh”.

India’s coastline of over 7,500 kms represents a viable opportunity for cruise tourism and we welcome the inclusion of port projects; also infrastructure/ connectivity towards development of India’s island destinations like Lakshadweep. An important highlight is the government’s plan to provide long-term interest-free loans to States for development of iconic tourism centres and promotion on a global standard – will be a key driver towards expanding tourism circuits across the Country. The anticipated tax buoyancy this fiscal augurs well – across the Travel & Tourism and allied sectors. The budgetary provisions underscore the government’s clear intent towards unlocking the immense potential and we look forward to playing our part as a key stakeholder in the nation’s tourism narrative during this ‘Kartavya Kaal’ and beyond.