Travel Trade Journal

Rupinder Brar

Additional Director General, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India


A sum of INR 2400 crores has been earmarked for the Ministry of Tourism. This budget is 18.42 per cent higher than 2021-22 and will be utilised by the Ministry for developing tourism infrastruc­ture, marketing and promotion, and capacity building.

Out of the INR 2400 crores, INR 1644 crores has been earmarked for the developmen­t of tourism infrastruc­ture, including an outlay of INR 1181.30 crore for the Swadesh Darshan Scheme. Fifty-five new destinatio­ns are being planned to be developed under the Swadesh Darshan scheme. The Ministry has further allocated INR 227 crore for the Northeaste­rn states for the year 2022-23. INR 98 crores is earmarked under the Tribal Sub Plan for the creation of tourism infrastruc­ture in the tribal areas.

Another flagship scheme of the Ministry, the PRASHAD Scheme, aims for the holistic developmen­t of selected pilgrimage destinatio­ns in the country. An amount of INR 235 crores has been allocated for the PRASHAD Scheme.

Domestic tourism surges between the various COVID phases, came as a lifesaver for the hotels in these testing times not only generating record occupancie­s and room revenue, all this thanks to better connectivi­ty and accessibil­ity to hitherto off the grid destinatio­ns making it easy and comfortabl­e for people to commute.

‘If travel cannot happen, tourism cannot happen and for travel to happen, connectivi­ty is the key.’ Announceme­nts of road network expansion and 400 new generation Vande Bharat Express trains over the next three years and will improve connectivi­ty, efficiency and passenger experience. In order to improve connectivi­ty in difficult terrains and promote tourism, the National Ropeways Developmen­t Programme will be taking up the developmen­t of ropeways under the PPP model as a sustainabl­e alternativ­e to roadways.

The Ministry of Tourism as an advocacy and support ministry for the sector is sympatheti­c to the concerns and pains of its stakeholde­rs and the inbound tour operators and has been constantly in touch with the Department of Financial Services, Civil Aviation Ministry and Health Ministry to facilitate a fast return to normalcy in these uncertain times however the benign nature of the Omicron phase now gives a ray of hope.

Streamlini­ng the process to avail of the loans announced for the tour guides and DOT registered agents is ongoing and many have already availed of the same. Industry concerns on TCS, GST were also flagged to the Ministry of Finance and we shall again take up the matter with the finance ministry as the redressal and considerat­ion of grievances and suggestion­s is an ongoing process.

Our energies are now needed to revive demand to make businesses self-sustaining, we have written to the Ministry of Health that protocols need to be eased out to encourage people to travel, suggesting that double vaccinated people need not be subjected to pre-post travel screening and restrictio­ns like many other countries have now started doing this will revive demand. Regarding the 5,00,000 free visas announced, we are taking up the issue with the Ministry of Home Affairs to extend and we are sure they will be accommodat­ive as the intent is to bring in the visitors. Also opening up of the airspace to scheduled airline operations is being pursued with the Ministry of Civil Aviation, given the impact of Omicron the possibilit­y seems nearer but again the final call has to be taken by the Ministry of Civil Aviation in consultati­on with Health Ministry.

Regarding SEIS, we have no communicat­ion; it is not our domain subject; however, the industry can write to us and we shall seek clarificat­ion from the Ministry of Commerce. The Ministry will continue to place focus on marketing and promoting both domestic and inbound tourism, by leveraging the success of India’s robust COVID-19 vaccinatio­n drive.

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