Tourism and travel will get a boost in the coming years as the government has provided an impetus in the Union Budget.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the government would set up up five Special Tourism Zones in partnership with States. These will be anchored as Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs).
Mr. Jaitley did not provide any further details or the States where these tourism zones would come up.
“Tourism is a big employment generator and has a multiplier impact on the economy. Five Special Tourism Zones, anchored on SPVs, will be set up in partnership with the States,” the Finance Minister said in his Budget speech.
He said to boost the image of India in the international travel market the Incredible India 2.0 Campaign will be unveiled across the world in the coming financial year.
Besides, the government has asked the Railways to start dedicated trains for tourism and pilgrimage purposes. The government allocated ₹1,840.77 crore to the Tourism Ministry in the Budget, including ₹959.91 crore for the Integrated Development of Tourist Circuits around specific themes (Swadesh Darshan scheme).
The Ministry will be receiving a little over ₹250 crore more in the 2017-18 fiscal compared to the ongoing financial year, according to the budget document. Another ₹100 crore has been allocated for Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive (PRASAD). Significantly, as much as ₹412 crore has been provided for promotion and publicity of the Tourism Ministry’s various programmes and schemes.
Under Swadesh Darshan, 13 thematic circuits have been identified for development, namely North-East India Circuit, Buddhist Circuit, Himalayan Circuit, Coastal Circuit, Krishna Circuit, Desert Circuit, Tribal Circuit, Eco Circuit, Wildlife Circuit, Rural Circuit, Spiritual Circuit, Ramayana Circuit and Heritage Circuit.
On the other hand, 13 cities — Ajmer, Amritsar, Amravati, Dwarka, Gaya, Kamakhaya, Kancheepuram, Kedarnath, Mathura, Patna, Puri, Varanasi and Velankanni — have been identified for development under PRASAD by the Tourism Ministry.
Easy on the pocket
The decision to withdraw service charge on railway tickets booked from the IRCTC website will also boost tourism, said analysts.
Mahesh Iyer, COO, Thomas Cook (India) Limited said one of the biggest announcements is the “withdrawal of service charge on rail tickets booked through IRCTC. This will not only lead to more bookings but enable the consolidation of a digital economy.”
“Another significant development is the emphasis on safety and sanitation, by introducing bio-toilets, which will increase passenger comfort. It is also encouraging to note the measures that will be incorporated to make the Railways friendlier for the disabled.” he added.
The decision to start DigiGaons (digital villages) to facilitate employment and augmenting transactions via the BHIM app have been welcomed as consumer-centric steps.
(With PTI inputs)