Travel budget 2021: As we inch closer to the much awaited Union Budget 2021, the expectations are increasing from all sectors, particularly the travel and hospitality segments that were directly impacted due to the lockdown restrictions. The future of travel and hospitality sectors look promising and optimistic, as Financial Express Online reported earlier this week after sharing the optimistic views shared by several travel and hospitality industry stakeholders. However, the need of the hour is to roll out decisive measures for revival.
Expectation from Budget 2021: Allocate sufficient resources
Zubin Saxena, Managing Director and VP Operations, South Asia, Radisson Hotel Group, told Financial Express Online, “It is imperative that travel and tourism is provided adequate support to drive it out of the demand shock created in the past 10-12 months. We are hopeful that the Union Budget will allocate sufficient resources to help the sector stronger out of these times.”
That train of thought is pertinent in the current scenario as more and more Indians want to step out and travel to nearby places or enjoy weekend getaways, a trend that is catching up with considerable enthusiasm for hill stations and beach destinations, not to mention pilgrimage centres such as Puri, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Varanasi, Tirupati among others.
Hospitality Budget 2021 expectations: Consider hospitality as an industry
Krishna Kumar, CEO & Co Founder, Isthara Parks Private Limited, told Financial Express Online, “The biggest wishes that we have are two points – first, hospitality being considered as an industry. Second, rental housing policy.”
Notably, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has continuously urged people to travel to domestic destinations, buy local products and boost the local economy. Addressing the nation on the occasion of India’s Independence Day in 2019, PM Modi had urged people to visit at least 15 domestic destinations by 2022. However, the pandemic struck the world a year later and thereby irrevocably changed the way we choose to travel.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call urging travel to 22 domestic tourist destinations by 2022 is encouraging. However, this has to be backed up by supporting the backbone of travel and tourism, which is Hotels,” Rohit Warrier, CEO and Founder, Warrier Safe Shields points out.
For several months in 2020, the COVID-19 crisis forced people to stay at home. Fearful of stepping out due to the grave risk posted by the pandemic, people stayed at home throughout the initial months of the lockdown, which directly impacted domestic travel and hospitality. Against the backdrop of reduced consumption patterns, the country saw a flickering uptick during the festive month of October as Diwali shopping sparked up, which brings to light the need to push for spending is now a necessary measure to step up revival.
Budget 2021 expectations from hospitality sector: Encourage spending
“To get the economy kicking, the government needs to encourage spending. One way is by rolling back LTCG tax. Another segment that has been hit big time by the pandemic has been the travel & hospitality segment. The government could consider extending MSME working capital loans to this sector to help job restoration,” Rohit Warrier tells Financial Express Online.
Warrier further observes, “Waiver or normalization of the Liquor license fee of hotels on a pro rata basis for the time the hotels were shut and not allowed to operate in the previous year will certainly help the hoteliers to tide over the tough times. In the hospitality sector, many are on the verge of going bust, relaxation of interest on loans and moratorium on loan repayment is the need of the hour. A dedicated stimulus package for the distressed hospitality sector is a must.”
Robust measures will brighten the prospects for the travel and hospitality sector.
So, what is the way forward?
According to Krishna Kumar, CEO & Co Founder of Isthara Parks Private Limited, “The Budget outlook for 2021 is going to be predominantly driven by how the market is going to be stimulated and how fast the rebound can happen. Almost all sectors have had a tough time during COVID-19 except a few segments such as Ecom. It will be interesting to see which segments gain prominence with the Government in terms of their priorities in stimulating and driving it up. Hospitality has largely been untouched and unfortunately no specific actions or stimulus packages were offered even during COVID-10 and I hope this is offset with some sops in Union Budget 2021.”
Budget expectations 2021 from travel industry: Encourage people to travel domestically
Akaal Manchanda, Founder & Director, Zuper Hotel Solutions raises other concerns that worry many in the travel industry such as, “The ICRA estimates it will take two years for the industry to return to normalcy. The government cannot continue to ignore the pleas of the industry that was once slated to grow to US$280.5 billion by 2026. The Union Budget 2021 should immediately look at boosting domestic tourism. For this, the hospitality and travel industry needs an emergency resuscitation plan starting with a reduction in GST to 5%, just to encourage people to travel domestically.”
With great expectations riding high, it’s not a stretch to expect the Union Budget 2021 to be an action-packed boost for the country’s travel and hospitality industry.