Indian budget gives booster shot to tourism

 Generous allocation to tourism and culture departments   will fuel  5 new Iconic Sites. 100 new airports on anvil: Travel industry upbeat about developments
New Delhi, February 5 2020: To make India an attractive destination for both international and domestic tourists, the Finance Minister presenting the Union Budget 2020 has  proposed an allocation of  Rs 2,500 crore ( Rs 2.5 billion or US$ 350 million) in 2020-21 for the tourism sector.  Government has also  set aside Rs 3,150 crore ( Rs 3.15 billion or US$ 440 million)  for the  Ministry of Culture.
 In order to have well-trained resources in the disciplines of museology and archeology, the government announced that  it will establish an Indian Institute of Heritage and Conservation with the status of a deemed university to operate under the Ministry of Culture. Said Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman: “Acquisition of knowledge in disciplines such as museology and archeology are essential for collecting and analysing scientific evidence of such findings and for dissemination through high quality museums.”
She added:“India had moved up from rank 65 in 2014 to 34 in 2019 in the Travel & Tourism Competitive Index (World Economic Forum).”
In a major bid to revitalise tourism, the Indian government proposes to set up  8 new museums, including museums at 5 "Iconic Sites" and  renovation of 5 existing major museums in  India.
The 5 Archeological locations  to be developed as Iconic Sites with on-site Museums  are: Rakhigarhi (Haryana), Hastinapur (Uttar Pradesh), Shivsagar (Assam), Dholavira (Gujarat) and Adichanallur (Tamil Nadu). See our story in Travel and Tourism section for details
Other  initiatives  announced are:
- A Maritime Museum  to be set up by the Ministry of Shipping to highlight Harappan Age at Lothal, Ahmedabad,
- Renovation and re-curating 5 museums including the oldest of them all,  the Indian Museum in Kolkata,
- A Numismatics and Trade Museum to be located in the historic Old Mint Building in Kolkata,
- Support for setting up a  Tribal Museum in Ranchi (Jharkhand.

New Airports
Recognizing that India’s Air traffic has grown rapidly as compared to the global average and the Air fleet number was expected to go up from the present 600 to 1200 within 5 years, the government also announced  that 100 more airports would be developed by 2024 to support  the UDAN scheme to subsidise regional air connectivity.
Industry voices
Reacting to these budgetary provisions, Indroneel Dutt, CFO, Cleartrip commented: "The government has backed its vision to turn India into one of the world’s top tourism hubs by allocating  Rs 2,500 crore for promoting tourism in general and setting aside a sum of  Rs  3100 crore for the Culture Ministry to boost regional tourism. What would be wonderful is to have an empowered nodal body comprising of the Government / OTA / airline, hotel and other industry representatives with the objective of promoting discoverability, ease of booking and fulfillment of our cultural, natural and heritage sites. Introduction of more Tejas Express type trains and the inauguration of several culturally-significant archaeological sites are other much-needed moves."
Added Nishant Pitti, Co-Founder & CEO, EaseMyTrip: "In tune with the present government vision to encourage Indian travellers to travel more and contribute towards the nation's growth, this budget takes it a step ahead. The budget has focused on promoting tourism & travel with an overall budget of Rs. 2500 crores in year 2020-21. Government aims to develop 100 more domestic airports under the UDAN scheme. To promote travel via railways, government will focus on more Tejas type trains that will connect tourist destinations in India."