Aviation, Heritage tourism benefit from an otherwise disappointing Budget 2018

The tourism and hospitality sectors had to listen intently to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s Union Budget 2018 speech for a mention, which was made precisely three times. The Finance Minister proposed to develop 10 prominent tourist sites into ‘Iconic Tourism destinations’ by following a holistic approach involving infrastructure and skill development, development of technology, attracting private investment, branding and marketing. “To preserve and revitalise soul of the heritage cities in India, National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) has been taken up in a major way,” the minister said. In addition, to enhance visitor experience, tourist amenities at 100 Adarsh monuments of the Archaeological Survey of India will be upgraded. For promoting tourism and emergency medical care, Government will make necessary framework for encouraging investment in sea plane activities, Jaitley mentioned.
The Minister noted that in the last three years, the domestic air passenger traffic grew at 18 per cent per annum and airline companies placed orders for more than 900 aircraft. Regional Connectivity Scheme of UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) initiated by the Government last year shall connect 56 unserved airports and 31 unserved helipads across the country, he said, adding that operations have already started at 16 such airports. “We propose to expand our airport capacity more than five times to handle a billion trips a year under a new initiative – NABH Nirman,” he said.
For the Railways sector, “We are in a process of eliminating unmanned railway crossings. All railway stations having more than 25,000 footfall will have escalators. We are also working to provide Wi-Fi and CCTV Cameras on all trains and stations,” Jaitley said. Redevelopment of 600 major railway stations has been taken up; Mumbai transport system is being expanded; suburban network of 160 km planned for Bengaluru, are some of the other highlights.