JK Mohanty, Secretary, Hotel Association of India & Chairman, The Hotel & Restaurant Association of Odisha (HRAO)
The Union Budget for 2020-21 is laced with goodies aimed at upgrading the quality of tourism infrastructure and promising a substantive hike in tourism promotion.
JK Mohanty, a secretary with the Hotel Association of India, and chairman of Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO)- eastern region and Hotel & Restaurant Association of Odisha is all gaga over the focus on tourism and allied sectors in the Budget.
“We welcome the Govt. of India’s decision to increase the budget for tourism promotion from Rs. 575 crores in 2019 to rs 2500 crores and Rs. 3150 crore for the promotion of Culture in place of Rs 875.33 crore sanctioned in last year’s budget. As the government proposed to invest Rs 100 lakh crore into infrastructure and creating national infrastructure pipeline by improving railways, airports, national highways, train connectivity to Iconic tourist destinations improving waterways through connecting rivers and building 100 more airports to support UDAN Scheme, is definitely a welcome move for the tourism sector”, JK Mohanty said.
“Further, the grant of Rs 1.7 lakh crore to the transport infrastructure sector would definitely have a positive impact in the tourism sector. The declaration of the new Economy for Data Center Parks in PPP mode and digital connectivity of one lakh Gram Panchayats through Bharat Link for which Rs 6000 crore provision has been made will definitely improve in connectivity and have a positive impact in the tourism industry”, JK Mohanty adds.
The Budget offers another positive in the form of running more Tejas type trains that seek to connect iconic tourism destinations.
“Provision of 12,300 crore for Swachh Bharat Mission and INR 11,500 crore for Jal Jeevan Mission will definitely help in improving the hygienic condition of the country and will give a positive impact to the tourism sector as well. The decision to develop five archeological sites (Rakhigarhi in Haryana, Hastinapur in Uttar Pradesh, Sivasagar in Assam, Dholavira in Gujarat and Adichanallur in Tamil Nadu as iconic sites with on-site museums will definitely help the tourism sector. However, there are many other important sites like Sun Temple at Konark, Lord Jagannath Temple at Puri, Dhauli (from where Budhisim spread its wing to the rest of the world), Khandagiri & Udayagiri Jain caves could have also be considered”, JK Mohanty opined.
The decision to project India as a preferred destination for higher study would definitely increase in the promotion of tourism and culture between the countries and bring in more footfalls to the country.
More, the proposal for a grant of Rs 3000 crore for Skill Development is most welcome as skill development in the hospitality sector is lacking and much in demand.
Hospitality institutions should benefit and up-skill the skills of the students through various schemes of the Skill Development designed by the Government.
However, JK Mohanty rued that the allocation of Rs 2500 crore towards tourism promotion is inadequate given that India’s foreign exchange earnings in the tourism sector have shot up from Rs. 1.75 lakh crore to Rs. 1.88 lakh crore between January and November this year.
“We had already brought to the notice of the Union Finance Ministry that INR 9000 crore is being spent by Indians traveling abroad on holidays because India is lacking infrastructure required for more investment in the tourism sector. More good hotels in iconic tourist destinations and domestic tourist locations are not available within the country and do not have sufficient hotels. It was proposed to give incentives up to 3-star category hotels to enable the Indian hospitality sector to compete with neighboring countries to make tourism a major Foreign Exchange Earning source for the country”, JK Mohanty said.