Infusing the experience of India with a renewed sense of vigour, the Union Budget 2023-24 announced key measures that will be undertaken to harness the immense potential of the tourism sector. Remarkably recovering from the pandemic, travel assumed pre-pandemic levels in March 2022, given higher vaccination rates and an overall effective management of the pandemic. The Economic Survey stated that hotel occupancy rate in November 2022 stood at around 68-70 percent, completely recovering the average pre-pandemic level of 2019-20.

Envisioning holistic development of at least 50 destinations, which will be selected through challenge mode, the Hon’ble Finance Minister announced a revamping of all known vectors of tourism—physical connectivity, virtual connectivity, tourist guides, food streets and tourists’ security. Incorporating digitality, an App to enhance tourists’ experiences was announced. In the arena of eco-tourism, the ‘Amrit Dharohar’ Scheme is set to promote the conservation and enhancement of wetlands.

The ‘Dekho Apna Desh’ initiative urges the middle class to explore the India opportunity over international tourism. Sector specific skilling and entrepreneurship development are key enablers in the zone under this initiative. The ‘Swadesh Darshan Scheme’ was also deliberated upon to ensure integrated development of theme-based tourist circuits. Extending progressive tourism facilities to border villages, the Vibrant Villages Programme was highlighted.

The curation of ‘Unity Malls’ is an interesting concept. The Budget calls on States to set up a Unity Mall in their state capital or their most prominent tourism centre or the financial capital. The aim is to foster a culture that is conducive to the marketing and promotion of state-specific products under the One district, One product-Districts as Export Hubs (ODOP-DEH) Initiative along with GI products and other handicraft products.

Promoting tourism on a mission mode, the Budget follows the Union Minister of Tourism G. Kishan Reddy’s launch of the ‘Visit India Year 2023’ campaign to encourage inbound travel to the country which is currently chairing the G20.

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