The Tourism and Hospitality industry showed their dismayal with the Union Budget 2022-23. Calling it 'gravely disappointing', they said the measures announced by Finance Minister Sitharaman were not enough to support the sector that has been crippled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Considering these aspects, the ECLGS will be extended up to March 2023 and its guarantee cover will be expanded by Rs 50,000 crore to the total cover of Rs 5 lakh crore, with the additional amount being earmarked exclusively for the hospitality and related enterprises," she said.
Reacting to her announcement, Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) Vice President Gurbaxish Singh Kohli said, "However, this is just a drop in the ocean for a sector that has been severely battered. Given the massive damages that decimated the entire sector's ecosystem, these measures are not adequate to bridge the losses and offer impetus to the hospitality and tourism industry".
He further said, "Though the Budget has been gravely disappointing, the extension of ECLGS with additional allocation to the crawling hospitality sector and provisioning an outlay of Rs 2 lakh crore through CGTMSE are the only relief measures provided as part of the Union Budget 2022-23".
National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) President Kabir Suri, however, said the extension of the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) till March 2023 may ease current liquidity issues only for some businesses, which have existing credit lines or outstanding sanction available loans. "It was very disappointing to see that no specific announcements were made for the restaurant industry and we are yet again left to fend for ourselves," he added.
Suri said the restaurant industry was eagerly looking at some immediate liquidity support like restoration of input tax credit (ITC) on GST, ease of doing business from over-regulation and excessive licensing, a fair and equitable e-commerce policy for the survival and revival of the restaurant sector in the Budget.
Confederation of Tourism Professionals President Subhash Goyal said, "Nothing concrete has been announced and this industry is bleeding for the last three years. The tourism industry was expecting some relief to be announced in this Budget but we are really disappointed".
"Since this Budget and the Finance Ministry has not seriously considered the economic contribution of tourism, therefore, we have no other option but to appeal to the tourism, health and home ministry for their help to restart e-tourist visas, scheduled international flights and remove the restriction of quarantine for those passengers who have received both the vaccinations," he said.
Otherwise, Goyal said, "It will be impossible for inbound tour operators, tourist guides, tourist transporters, tourist drivers, artisans, handicraft manufacturers, artists, musicians etc. who are all dependent on inbound tourism to survive".
Contrary to the sentiments of the industry bodies, OYO Founder & Group CEO Ritesh Agarwal termed the Budget as progressive and growth-oriented and said the extension of the incorporation period for eligible startups will certainly give a boost to the segment.
"Hospitality services by the small and medium sector are yet to bounce back, and the finance minister's decision to extend the ECGL service for this sector up to March 2023, expanding the cover by Rs 50,000 crore is a welcome move," he said.
Similarly, EaseMyTrip Co-founder Rikant Pittie said, "International travel has been severely impacted by the pandemic, which is why we are pleased with the introduction of e-passports with embedded chips. This will provide a big boost to travel and add a level of convenience for international travellers".
( With PTI Inputs)