Boost for infra, amenities at islands as ₹2,449 crore allocated for tourism | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

Interim Budget: Boost for infra, amenities at islands as 2,449 crore allocated for tourism

Feb 02, 2024 02:29 AM IST

Sitharaman said that “our economic strength has made the country an attractive destination for business and conference tourism”.

Tourism infrastructure and amenities will be taken up in the country’s islands, including Lakshadweep, to meet the “emerging fervour” for domestic tourism, Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Thursday.

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman leaves the finance ministry ahead of the presentation of the interim budget in Parliament. (Sanchit Khanna/HT)
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman leaves the finance ministry ahead of the presentation of the interim budget in Parliament. (Sanchit Khanna/HT)

Sitharaman also said that “our economic strength has made the country an attractive destination for business and conference tourism”.

Unlock exclusive access to the story of India's general elections, only on the HT App. Download Now!

The finance minister was presenting the interim Union Budget for 2024-25 in Parliament, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections this summer, when she made the announcements. An amount of 2,449.62 crore was allocated for the sector for 2024-25, a significant jump from the 1,692.10 crore that was allocated, according to revised estimates, for the current financial year. The budget estimate for 2023-24 was 2,400 crore.

Read here: India to push tourism infra in islands including Lakshadweep: FM in budget speech

“To address the emerging fervour for domestic tourism, projects for port connectivity, tourism infrastructure, and amenities will be taken up on our islands, including Lakshadweep. This will help in generating employment also,” Sitharaman said in Parliament.

The mention of Lakshadweep by the finance minister follows a visit to the island by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 4, intemperate responses to his tweets on the visit by junior ministers from the Maldives, a social media storm featuring influencers from both countries, and a diplomatic spat that saw the Maldivian ministers in question being suspended.

On August 8 last year, tourism minister G Kishan Reddy informed the Rajya Sabha that under Swadesh Darshan 2.0, Lakshadweep has been identified for development.

There was, however, a substantial boost in allocation for Maldives, a recipient of India’s foreign aid, in the interim budget. The government allocated 600 crore for the island nation for 2024-25 as against the 400 crore that was set aside in 2023-24. The revenue estimates, however, for 2023-24 was 770.90 crore.

Sitharaman, in her speech, said the Indian middle class also now “aspires to travel and explore”.

“States will be encouraged to take up comprehensive development of iconic tourist centres, branding and marketing them at global scale. A framework for rating of the centres based on quality of facilities and services will be established,” she said.

Long-term interest-free loans will be provided to states for financing such development on a matching basis, she added.

Sitharaman said that the success of organising G20 meetings in 60 places, as India hosted the global summit last year, presented the diversity of India to a global audience. “Our economic strength has made the country an attractive destination for business and conference tourism. Tourism, including spiritual tourism, has tremendous opportunities for local entrepreneurship,” she said.

The tourism industry said it hopes the announcements made in the interim budget will be carried forward in the full budget that will be announced in July, assuming the Narendra Modi-led government will comfortably be back in power.

“It is hoped that the actual budget in July will take forward the statement of intent announced in the interim budget: of international promotion, developing iconic destinations in partnership with states through an incentive-based system, deepening the focus on domestic tourism and recognition of MICE tourism capabilities of India and also continuing the focus on new airports, Vande Bharat trains and high traffic highways,” consulting CEO of The Federation of Associations of Indian Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH), Aashish Gupta, said.

“Announcements such as infrastructure for the hospitality industry, focus on enhancing foreign tourist arrivals through enhanced overseas marketing budgets and free tourist visas, and reduction of GST to 12% for hotels and restaurants and 1.8 % for tour operators with full set offs will reflect a long term intent to promote a tourism, travel and hospitality-driven economy,” he added.

Discover the complete story of India's general elections on our exclusive Elections Product! Access all the content absolutely free on the HT App. Download now!

Get Current Updates on India News, Lok Sabha Election 2024 Live, Election 2024 along with Latest News and Top Headlines from India and around the world.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Share this article
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
OPEN APP
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Monday, April 15, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On