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Gaining Real Traction

Friday, February 8, 2019, 16:37 Hrs  [IST]

Astounded by the turnout of business visitors to the recent SATTE, one of the premier travel trade exhibitions of the region for over 25 years, a leading tour operator quipped, “This shows travel has become a serious business in the country?” There was certain amount of apprehension in everyone’s mind, including organisers, whether the change of venue to Greater Noida will impact the footfalls? But the turnout proved the nay-sayers wrong! It certainly gave ample reason to believe that travel has evolved into a serious business in the country with a growing consumer market who look for an opportunity to pack up their bags at the ‘drop of a week-end’, short or long. It has also become a trend in the industry to assess the number of short and long week-ends in a New Year in advance and prepare customised packages both within and in the short-haul destinations abroad. In that context, I heard an official of an online travel company rueing how dampening the year 2019 is with much reduced number of long weekends when compared to the previous year – just 7 in place of 11 last year!

While the exhibition ran full-house on all the designated days, an attitudinal difference in the domestic/inbound players and the outbound destinations was blatant in the whole Fair. Travel exhibitions are platforms for serious networking and engagement with trade and industry to chalk out partnerships and get the messaging and communication right. In that sense, outbound destinations had a march over our own domestic players in the overall show signalling the outbound – inbound imbalance is here to stay and widen further in favour of outbound travel in coming years. When neighbourhood destinations like Thailand, Indonesia, etc. compete for Indian travel pie through Visa fee waivers and Visa on Arrivals, we are yet to get our own e-Visa system right and communicated properly.

Amidst all these, one important development that would go a long way in mitigating the connectivity blues in Indian tourism is worth mentioning. The recent decision of Ministry of Tourism to become a financial partner in the Regional Connectivity Scheme, UDAN, of Ministry of Civil Aviation is an encouraging sign for travel and tourism in the country. In the third round of UDAN bidding last week 46 tourism routes have been allotted to airline operators across the country. The list of routes have been curated by Tourism Ministry and hence are reassuring for travel and tourism sector in the country.

P Krishna Kumar
Assistant Editor

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