The Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH) was invited to the pre-budget discussions in the ‘Industry - Trade Bodies’ category recently with the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and his complete leadership team of the Ministry of Finance which were also attended by Secretary (Commerce) and Secretary (DIPP).
The Federation said that Indian tourism has still to leverage its natural and cultural assets which are demonstrated by India's WEF global ratings of 12 on natural & cultural assets but 52nd on global tourism competitiveness, further evidenced by our less than 1 per cent share of world tourism.
FAITH opines that a radical approach is required proposed the tourism strategy ‘Holiday in India’ on the lines of ‘Make in India’ manufacturing strategy by the Indian Prime Minister. FAITH’s scenario analysis shows that under this radical strategy of ‘Holiday in India’, Indian tourism can impact upto an estimated 12 -16 crore jobs directly/ indirectly from the current levels of ~ 4-5 crores. The tourism GDP can get impacted directly/indirectly upto Rs 40 lakh crores from the current levels of Rs 7- 8 lakh crores.
‘Holiday in India’'s objective is to make India a multi-season, multi-product highly preferred tourist/business/conference destination for both the global and domestic tourists.
Four key macro- economic outcomes are envisaged for which the support of Union Budget FY 17-18 is required as such through the following pre- budget recommendations:
Generating high local employment: Through an R &R (Remote & Rural) fund to financially support heritage and adventure businesses running parts of their operations out of these areas. Through a domestic tax credit for individual salary payers upto Rs 50,000 for holidaying in India and double weighted exemption on corporates for undertaking conferences and exhibitions in India. Through a low GST rate to encourage local holidaying. All of these initiatives are expected to give a boost to domestic jobs.
Stimulating high forex: Through keeping tourism GST at 5 per cent or half the standard rate in line with global practices. Though amending the revised draft GST law section 2(6) C to make an exception for tourism to be recognised as an export service as it can be only serviced in India & not internationally. Through creating a global bidding fund to enable bidding for international conferences & events & targeting a higher share. Through exploring synergies between our trade and tourism offices to deepen our international penetration. These initiatives will boost our forex earnings from tourism to an unprecedented level.
Asset Monetisation of our intangible wealth: Through creating a tourism - culture PPP policy for our museums for leveraging them for world class standards. Through creating an India HAAT SPV which on a PPP basis sets up India Haats (on the lines of Delhi Haats) as 24 hour destinations across all our top cities and towns. These initiatives will boost tourism visitation to these new destinations which will leverage India's cultural heritage.
Radical boost to infrastructure led capital spending: Through granting infrastructure status to our hotels & resorts to enable India to build world class hospitality capacity. Through creating a policy for 5 mega tourism destinations one each for north, south, east, west & north east, one each focused probably on Himalayas, spirituality, entertainment, conventions & Eco tourism. Through creating a national land bank for tourist vehicles parking areas and hotel & resorts construction. These initiatives will unlock and channelise high capital spending in infrastructure creation.
The suggestions were acknowledged and appreciated by most members present at the meeting.