No respite for travel agents & tour operators in interim budget: TAAI

‘‘Travel trade ignored again by government’’
2024-02-01
/
/ New Delhi
No respite for travel agents & tour operators in interim budget: TAAI

TAAI says it made several representations to the Finance Ministry, notably about GST and TCS

The interim budget presented by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman brings no respite to Indian travel and tourism sector, says Travel Agents Association of India.
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India’s largest and oldest travel trade association, the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) says that the interim budget presented in the Parliament by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today has shown no respite to the travel agents and tour operators.

In a press statement, TAAI says that various representations were made to the Finance Ministry on concerns of ease of doing business, specifically on Goods & Services Tax and Tax Collected at Source (TCS) and other challenges faced by the travel and tourism sector in India.

TAAI says that being the nodal and premier body, it feels that although being an interim budget pending challenges and concerns from over two years could have been addressed by the Finance Minister, especially on the TCS levy on overseas tour programme package, which is impacting business of travel agents operating in India making them non-competitive and impacting the liquidity of consumers or travellers.

TAAI adds that announcements have been made on development and infrastructure to the tourism industry specifically in the North East and island destinations like Lakshadweep, thereby promoting investment in the sector. “We are happy that the Finance Minister spoke about Viksit Bharat and has encouraged other industries, but totally ignored the travel agent and tour operators who are the catalyst in developments, enhancement and promotion of tourism, be it domestic, inbound, inland as well as outbound tourism,’’ says the industry association.

TAAI adds that with the increase in UDAN and aviation sector in India at large, there has been no observations noted or any directions formulated on airlines going bankrupt. TAAI says it has already submitted a document to the authorities on the protection of interest of the consumers, travellers and travel agents against the bankruptcy of airlines operating in India, whereby billions of rupees are lost by the travelling community.

The statement adds that though overall at the macros level tourism infrastructure and development has got a boost which is a long-term benefit, but nothing in the coming year shall benefit the trade at large.

‘‘We appreciate her views on enhancing and promoting spiritual tourism, which shall certainly lead to more employment and entrepreneurship in the sector. Additionally the government’s encouragement on development of new airports, rail corridors, roads and ports which shall enable last mile connectivity is also seen as long-term growth oriented. We also acknowledge that the government has placed MICE, especially business and conference tourism as a prime focus area but the same is not possible without appropriate infrastructure, which shall take a few years to develop. Overall we feel that once again the travel trade has been ignored,’’ says TAAI.

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