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‘Incredible India’ offers hospitality beyond boundaries

Today
India has the potential to become the number one tourist destination in the
world, it has many attractions. It has the world’s highest mountains, beautiful
hill stations, miles of coastline beaches, tropical forests, desert safari,
lagoon backwaters, ancient monuments, forts and palaces, adventure tourism and
then the most important tourist destination, the Taj Mahal. This feeling was
echoed in the Finance Minister’s budget speech this year. “India’s rich
cultural, historical, religious and natural heritage provides a huge potential

Today
India has the potential to become the number one tourist destination in the
world, it has many attractions. It has the world’s highest mountains, beautiful
hill stations, miles of coastline beaches, tropical forests, desert safari,
lagoon backwaters, ancient monuments, forts and palaces, adventure tourism and
then the most important tourist destination, the Taj Mahal. This feeling was
echoed in the Finance Minister’s budget speech this year. “India’s rich
cultural, historical, religious and natural heritage provides a huge potential
for the development of tourism and job creation as an industry,”

The
past two years have been a particularly challenging phase for the industry, due
to the impact of continued global economic uncertainties and a sharp domestic
downturn. However, despite these adverse headwinds, the long-term potential of
India’s tourism sector and its strategic role in supporting our country’s quest
for inclusive growth remains undiminished. The earlier setbacks have prompted the
tourist department to sponsor India’s tourism through forceful marketing
approaches and its campaign ‘Incredible India’

The
budget has distinctly fallen short of our high expectations, in the absence of
any focused fiscal incentives and tax relief for the hospitality industry. In
light of the Prime Minister himself identifying tourism as one of the five
priority areas for India’s transformative growth, we were amply confident
that  the government’s maiden budget
would immediately take decisive steps to streamline the sector’s anomalous
multiple tax regime, which has been the primary impediment undermining India’s
global competitiveness in tourism. In this context, hotels and restaurants
should have been included in the Negative List for Service Tax, pending
introduction of GST. The same revenue base is already subject to VAT and Luxury
Tax imposed by State Governments and thus, levy of Service Tax by the Centre,
is clearly tantamount to double-taxation. It is FHRAI’s considered view that
the relatively meager tax revenue which accrues to the Central Government on
this account, is insignificant when compared to the massive economic
opportunity which the country is losing in terms of additional employment
generation, capital investment and forex earnings, by failing to effectively
capitalize on the intrinsic potential of our hospitality & tourism
industry.

The pro-tourism friendly approach of the present-daygovernment
and the recent announcement by the tourism minister as well as introduction of
E-Visa have all given hope to this industry for a better future. However, we wish to earnestly emphasize, that in
order for this bold initiative to yield the intended benefit, it is vital that
the nationals of a majority of those countries which constitute the top 15
source markets for FTAs in India (table enclosed), should be eligible
for issuance of eVisa, in the impending launch of the first phase itself.

Among
other initiatives declared in the budget for encouraging culture and tourism
are the creation of five tourist circuits around specific themes, a national
mission on pilgrimage, rejuvenation and spiritual augmentation drive (Prasad)
and a national heritage city development and augmentation yojana (Hriday).
“Hriday” will be launched in Mathura, Amritsar, Gaya, Kanchipuram, Vellankani
and Ajmer this year. “Sarnath-Gaya-Varanasi Buddhist” circuit would be
developed with “world-class tourist amenities” to attract tourists from around
the world.

We
expect the government to seriously give a hearing to the challenges that the
tourism sector is facing and try to bring solutions to it, ‘Incredible India’
has lot to offer to the world and if India’s vast resources and offerings are
widely used Tourism can be one of the top segments in increasing the economy of
the country. 

TOP 15 SOURCE COUNTRIES FOR FOREIGN TOURIST ARRIVALS (FTAs) IN
INDIA

 

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