Nirmala Sitharaman present Union Budget 640

Around 50 new tourist destinations will be developed; a helpful tourist app; and Unity Malls selling local handicrafts are among the measures that were presented by India’s finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, as part of the Union Budget 2023-2024, on February 1.

In her budget speech, Sitharaman said that the promotion of tourism will be “taken up on mission mode”, with active participation from Indian states, as well as public-private partnerships.

Nirmala Sitharaman present Union Budget 640
Nirmala Sitharaman (centre) presents the Union Budget 2023-2024 at the Parliament House in New Delhi

This includes the development of 50 destinations for tourism activities with a focus on physical connectivity, trained tourist guides, enhancing food streets and tourist security.

An online application will also be developed to provide relevant information to travellers visiting these destinations.

Tourism stakeholders were largely positive about the possibilities.

Michael Jain, director of Belair Travel – The Global Travel Company, said: “Regional connectivity is key for helping India to showcase its diverse tourism experiences. With the government’s plans to renew 50 additional airports, helipads and advanced landing grounds, regional connectivity will improve strongly.”

Agreed, Sabina Chopra, co-founder & chief operating officer, corporate travel & head – industry relations, Yatra Online, added that the development will provide a “boost to niche segments like religious, spiritual and wellness tourism by easing passenger commute”.

The government will also encourage Indian states to set up a Unity Mall in their capital city or most prominent tourism area, and these will promote and sell handicrafts and products from the respective state.

“The government’s impetus on ‘Dekho Apna Desh’ (explore your country) will provide a further boost to the growth of domestic tourism in the country. The focus on setting up Unity Malls will help promote local handicrafts among both domestic and international tourists,” said Sarbendra Sarkar, founder & managing director, Cygnett Hotels and Resorts.

Under another scheme, the Vibrant Villages Programme, tourism infrastructure and amenities will also be facilitated in border villages as the government is looking to develop theme-based tourist circuits in the country.




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