Budget encompasses sustainability and social welfare in Hospitality, say Industry leaders

Nirmala Sitharaman, India’s finance minister, during a news conference in New Delhi, India, on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023. Prime Minister Narendra Modis government unveiled a pre-election India budget that cut personal income taxes to boost consumption while ramping up infrastructure spending to spur growth in an economy touted as a bright star amid a gloomy global outlook. Photographer: Prakash Singh/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman delivered the sixth Budget of her tenure, termed as an ‘interim Budget’ due to the impending end of the current government’s term and upcoming elections. Commencing her Budget speech, Sitharaman highlighted the Union government’s initiatives in the social sectors, echoing Prime Minister’s delineation of the ‘four castes’ in December 2023 – encompassing the impoverished, youth, women, and farmers. Here are several reactions from the industry leaders of Hospitality landscape including sectors like Food and Beverage, education in Hospitality, Luxury Hotels etc.

In response to the Finance Minister’s visionary initiatives, Ramachandra Bhat, Director, Finance, Clarks Exotica, expressed optimism about the substantial impact on the hospitality sector. The government’s emphasis on the comprehensive development of iconic tourist centers with global branding aligns seamlessly with Clarks Exotica’s commitment to delivering unique and culturally immersive guest experiences. Bhat sees promise in the proposed projects for port connectivity, tourism infrastructure, and amenities in the islands, particularly Lakshadweep. He notes the potential for these initiatives to enhance destination allure and act as catalysts for significant employment generation within the hospitality sector. Anticipating heightened demand for accommodation and services, Bhat envisions a positive upswing for the industry. The Finance Minister’s targeted approach to elevate tourism in islands, notably Lakshadweep, drew specific commendation from Bhat. He stressed the need to navigate challenges such as sustainable development and infrastructure requirements, emphasizing prudent planning and collaboration between the government and private sector entities like Clarks Exotica. Bhat also acknowledged the Finance Minister’s recognition of opportunities for local entrepreneurship, including in spiritual tourism. Looking ahead, he expressed confidence that local businesses and entrepreneurs within the hospitality sector are poised to play a pivotal role in showcasing indigenous experiences, promising not only a substantial economic impact but also fostering community engagement and sustainable tourism practices. In conclusion, as observed by Ramachandra Bhat, the Finance Minister’s forward-thinking proposals are poised to usher in positive transformations for the hospitality sector’s future, aligning well with Clarks Exotica’s commitment to excellence and unique guest experiences.

Param Kannampilly, Executive Chairman, Concept Hospitality Pvt Ltd, The Fern Hotels & Resorts, said, “In the wake of the recent budget announcement, we applaud the government’s foresight in recognizing the immense potential within tourism, particularly the uncharted territory of spiritual tourism, as the people of India are now willing to travel and explore more. This visionary approach not only unlocks doors for local entrepreneurship but also serves as a catalyst for employment generation. The emphasis on developing iconic tourist centers and global-scale marketing aligns seamlessly with our commitment to providing unparalleled experiences. This initiative not only enhances our global standing but also signifies a collective effort to harness the untapped potential within our borders. Additionally, our country’s economic strength positions it as an attractive destination for business and conference tourism, a trend we are prepared to champion.”

“It is highly encouraging to note that the Hon’ble Finance Minister has highlighted the significance of tourism as an important driver of our economy to spur employment and GDP. The enhanced focus of the Government for promotion of MICE, religious tourism, iconic tourism centres and domestic tourism will lay the foundation of tourism development in the Amrit Kal and equip the sector to achieve the ambitious target of welcoming 100 million tourists by 2047. The tourism and hospitality sector are also very delighted to hear about the govt’s vision to grant long term financing to states for developing iconic tourism centres. The Government has also reinforced its commitment to the tourism sector through the announcement that tourism projects will be taken up at islands, including Lakshadweep. This strategic initiative promises a seamless experience for tourists and unlocks tremendous growth avenues for the hospitality sector. By enhancing infrastructure, it aligns with a mission to exceed evolving traveller expectations, making Lakshadweep a premier destination for discerning travellers. This visionary approach transforms the islands into a magnet for tourists, creating new opportunities and propelling the hospitality sector into an era of unparalleled growth within India’s dynamic tourism and hospitality landscape”, said Pradeep Shetty, President, The Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India

Vikram Kamat,Founder and CMD, The Vitskamats Group, expressed “While appreciating the broader economic outlook presented in the interim budget, the hospitality and restaurant sectors also play a pivotal role in our economic landscape and require targeted support to navigate the challenges they face. As we anticipate the full budget, our hope remains steadfast for a more comprehensive approach to address the specific needs of these vital sectors.”

Manoj Sihag & Rahul Uppal, Directors, Echor Hotels & Resorts, said, “We celebrate the government’s commendable increase in capex for road infrastructure, there’s a missed chance in the new budget to merge GST categories. Despite this, the enhanced connectivity will positively impact local tourism, cutting travel time from major cities like Delhi to scenic destinations like Himachal and Kashmir through improved tunnels and roads.”

Barkha Mahtani, the Founder, Kobe Sizzlers perceives the budget not merely as a financial blueprint but as a canvas painted with strokes of sustainability, social welfare, and entrepreneurial optimism. She said, “The recently released budget is the key to fostering a holistic growth narrative, aligning seamlessly with evolving consumer expectations and societal well-being. As we wholeheartedly embrace these positive policy changes, our commitment remains unwavering in contributing to Bengaluru’s culinary landscape and fortifying the broader economic resurgence.”

In the aftermath of the 2024-25 budget declaration, Sanjay Vazirani, Founder, China Bistro and a pivotal force within Foodlink F&B Holdings India Pvt Ltd, reflects on its far-reaching implications for the hospitality sector and the broader consumer industry in India. The budget unfolds a tapestry of measures that extend beyond mere economic policies, encompassing themes of sustainability, social welfare, and entrepreneurial optimism.
“Embracing a sense of optimism, I reflect on the promising landscape of local entrepreneurship, particularly in spiritual tourism. This aligns seamlessly with the government’s recognition of opportunities for local businesses within the hospitality sector- an acknowledgment that acts as a catalyst for substantial economic impact, fostering community engagement and advocating sustainable tourism practices,” shares Vazirani. “As the steward of China Bistro, I envision the elevation of India’s position as a global player in the hospitality landscape. My optimism remains unwavering regarding its positive impact on our industry’s trajectory.”, he adds.

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