Travel agents body demands industry status, GST rate rationalization for tourism sector

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Mumbai, Jul 8 (PTI) Travel agents body TAAI on Monday sought a slew of measures, including simple visa requirements and encouraging visa-free entry for tourists visiting India, rationalisation of GST rates and GST credit, and industry status for all stakeholders in the segment, among others, for the domestic travel and tourism sector, which contributes 5.8 per cent to the India's economy.

"The Union Budget 2024 holds significant expectations for India's travel and tourism sector. India's travel and tourism sector contributes 5.8 per cent to the GDP and aims for a target of USD 1 trillion by 2047. We hope the budget addresses these priorities," Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) said.

It said that these measures, if implemented, can significantly enhance India's travel and tourism industry, benefiting both businesses and travellers, it said.

Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) in a statement also said that despite its various representations on concerns of ease of doing business, goods and service tax (GST) and tax collected at source (TCS) among others, related to the travel industry at the time of the interim budget in February this year were ignored.

The Association said it had conveyed its dissatisfaction to the interim budget presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman prior to the Parliamentary polls this year.

TAAI has reiterated its earlier request in a detailed communication to Sitharaman, Minister for Civil Aviation Kinjarapu Rammohan Naidu and Tourism & Culture Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on July 5, ahead of the presentation of the Union Budget later this month, it said.

The Association said it is looking for the government to continue its focus on infrastructure in the forthcoming Union Budget by way of the establishment of new airports through private participation, rapid expansion in rail, road, and waterways (sea and river cruises) besides development of high-growth areas like religious circuit, MICE, wellness and hidden gems such as Lakshadweep.

Stating that there is a need for simplifying visa requirements and encouraging visa-free entry for tourists visiting India, which can significantly enhance foreign tourist arrivals, TAAI also has sough reduction in Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) Costs to pre-pandemic levels, saying that this move would improve air travel accessibility.

The Association said it is also hoping for a more favourable GST structure that allows input tax credit for holiday businesses..

This could lead to more affordable hotel stays, making accommodations accessible to tourists and encouraging investment in the sector, it said. PTI IAS MR