By Ambuj Saxena
There is always a higher level of excitement when the budget announcement is around the corner. On this day, everyone is affected in some way or the other! For some, there is good news in the form of interest rate cut on the products they buy or services they use and for some, there is not a good news in the form of lower budget allocation for the desired sector.
In the last blog, we had talked about the current scenario of tourism in India. You may read the blog here: https://goo.gl/jQ2Jl9
Let’s take it forward here.
What is so special about budget 2017-18?
This is the first time after 92 years that railway budget and general budget have been merged. This was done after the incumbent central government on 21 September 2016 approved merger of the Rail and General budgets. Since the fortunes of various modes of transport affect Tourism directly so let us analyze the past and present trend of Indian Budget with respect to Railways.
Rail Budget and General Budget:
In 1921, a British economist, William Acworth was appointed chairman of the Committee on Indian Railways. He came out with a report on Indian Railways called Acworth Report. The report led to the creation of a separate Railway budget from the General budget.
You might be wondering what is the need to merge Rail budget and General budget from 2017, ending a 92-year practice?
- Reform: This move is a part of the reform agenda of the incumbent Government.
- Optimal hike in Passenger fares is now possible: We all have witnessed that in the past, any railway minister who had the guts to increase the passenger fares had to face strong resistance from the coalition parties threatening to withdraw their support in case of hiked fares. Now, with the merger, the Finance minister shall take a call on hiking the passenger fares.
- Doing away with populist measures: Railway ministers would dole out new trains and projects as a favor to their constituency or state. This would be done away with the Finance Minister being handed over the reigns.
- Optimal utilization of resources: Due to the merger, railways will get rid of the annual dividend they had to pay for the budgetary support offered by the central government. Thus, this dividend could be used to repair old tracks and building new tracks or for improving rail services.
Budget announcements that affect the Tourism sector:
There are various announcements that affect the tourism directly or indirectly. The Union Budget has pointed to a reloaded version of Incredible India with the following announcements:
- Set up five special tourism zones
- Prioritizing tourism as a growth driver
- The Ban on cash transaction over Rs 3 lakh is a welcome move and will provide a level playing field.
- Recognition of Tourism as a potential source of job creation that would have a multiplier effect on the country’s economy.
- Rural infrastructural development- The high-speed internet connectivity in rural areas will be the biggest advantage to our rural communities. This will help them opt for online travel bookings.
- Allocation to infrastructure sector to the tune of Rs. 3.96 lakh crores.
- Stepping up the allocation for National Highways to Rs. 64,000 crore.
- Focus on digital infra development
- Announcement of AadhaarPay*
- Development of select airports in Tier 2 cities
- Initiatives to transform the dwindling status of railways
- Improving 3500 railway lines across India
- Make 500 stations differently-abled-friendly by providing lifts and escalators
- Introducing a new Metro rail policy that will cater to the employment needs of the nation
- Withdrawal of service charges on e-tickets booked via IRCTC
- Inclusion of bio-toilets in the railways
- Provision of dedicated, special pilgrim trains
In the next post, we shall share with you what else the Finance Minister have done for the Tourism sector. Stay tuned for more
If there is some point that I missed out or if you wish to recommend something for the benefit of Tourism sector, please do not hesitate to use our comment box. I am always ready to know something new!
About the Author:
Ambuj Saxena is Co-Founder at BnBNation.com. He is a 2013 Brand Management graduate from Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad (MICA). He has successfully executed various online and offline marketing campaigns for companies operating in Automobile, Fashion and Lifestyle, Travel and Tourism sectors as well as Government departments. He has co-founded BnBNation as he believes that Tourism and Hospitality is as much online as it is offline, and he can add value to both. BnBNation covers specific events that showcase India’s cultural heritage.
Sources of inspiration: