As the country gears up for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the interim Union Budget 2024 is drawing significant attention, especially from the tourism industry. The sector, vital for the nation's economic growth, anticipates crucial reforms that could provide a much-needed impetus.
While talking about the expectation from the Budget 2024, Nishant Pitti, CEO and Co-founder, EaseMyTrip, said that there is a need for the government to introduce reforms that can act as a catalyst for the tourism industry's growth.
Pitti emphasised the need for governmental reforms in the tourism industry, stating, “We expect the Government to allow GST input on holiday businesses, a strategic reduction in income tax to catalyse growth in the country's tourism industry, and the streamlining of the TCS structure to a more favourable 5 percent slab.” This allowance could lower costs for tour operators, making travel more affordable and stimulating demand.
On the topic of income tax, Pitti believes a strategic reduction could energise the sector by increasing disposable income, thus encouraging more travel. This is particularly significant in a country like India with a growing middle class, potentially leading to a boost in domestic travel.
Tax Collected at Source (TCS)
Pitti also asserted the importance of streamlining the Tax Collected at Source (TCS) structure, advocating for a reduction to a 5 percent slab. This change could ease the financial burden on travellers and increase travel bookings.
A key aspect of Pitti's expectations is the overhaul of tax exemption policies related to Leave Travel Allowance (LTA). He said, “A comprehensive overhaul of tax exemption policies related to Leave Travel Allowance (LTA), urging the Government to consider an annual allowance and the inclusive coverage of the entire tour package cost under LTA, surpassing the limitation to only flight expenses.”
Furthermore, Pitti underscores the untapped potential of domestic tourism, urging the government to focus on infrastructure development, technology integration, and health safety measures in transportation, including airports, roads, railways, and waterways. Such improvements could enhance the travel experience, making it safer and more accessible.
Highlighting the potential of India's waterways, Pitti advocates for government-led development of sea and river cruising opportunities, offering unique experiences to travellers and opening new avenues in tourism.