Face of the future: Zaheer Ellias Najeeb
The never-say-die attitude is what defines India’s young guns of the travel industry. Putting the spotlight on bright ideas and entrepreneurs, takes a peek at India’s young turks who are changing the rules of the very game itself.
If I become the Tourism Minister
For tourism to leapfrog in our country from less than one per cent of the global share, we need things beyond infrastructure and marketing. I want to create a better and structured tourism information system and nurture activity-oriented Tourism centres for creating interest in historical sites. Also, I would push for more interactive museums, theme parks, use of technology in existing attractions to make them interactive and interesting. Creating awareness about how the tourism industry contributes more than five times that of the automobile industry to GDP and employment (from WTTC figures) will also be in my priority list.
Three things I look forward to in a vacation
Of late, the favourite thing about a holiday is watching my little girl have the time of her life. I have picked up photography in the last few years. I believe I am getting good at it. But the one thing I have always treasured while on a holiday is meeting local people and getting their insights on the place. More than just doing what the guides and books thing unique about each one. One thing I always look forward to is a little snow.
Film tourism is a potential segment to increase inbound
Our country is unique in almost every aspect. A story is compelling when it is relatable and believable. Making India more relevant in the world would be the best way to create a potential for film tourism.
My contribution to our company and the travel industry
Our company has, through great vision, effort and innovation been in the forefront for more than 30 years. I am a techie, not just by profession, but by passion. Through the infusion of technology, I have brought in a newer vision and hope to sustain the same leadership for the next 30 years. In today’s travel industry, the only way to survive and remain profitable is to embrace technology. Our company has taken many new initiatives in this segment. We hope to reap the benefits in the next few years. Great India Tourism Planners & Consultants (GITPAC) International, one of our companies, has been the implementing agency for Responsible Tourism initiatives at four destinations in Kerala. This initiative has received international recognition and a UNWTO award. Responsible Tourism has great potential in this country and we continue to be innovative in this field.
The importance of tourism consultants in bringing great products to market is yet to be realised and is on my wish-list.
New trends in the travel industry
MICE Tourism has been sprouting across the country with world-class facilities. Also, in last few years, domestic tourism has overshadowed inbound. With better connectivity and cost-effectiveness, we are likely to see this trend continue and improve. State governments, realising the importance of tourism to the growth of their states, are giving more attention to tourism. This is evident from the fact that the
budgeted fund allocation has increased on average from 30 per cent to 40 per cent. An attention to online marketing has come about and tourism players are increasing their presence and reach online.
Practices that should be done away with
The travel customer has changed tremendously in the past few years. Today, the customer comes mostly at the last stage of his purchase decision. In such a scenario, it is necessary to be present in all stages of the process of influence. It is essential to move away from just traditional and expensive advertising and to keep a rounded approach for influencing potential customers and keeping the experience consistent.
Changes I want to see in the industry
Though the quality of manpower has substantially increased, there is still potential for world-class training institutions to bring about a service standard and quality that would be internationally envied. Though we see more tourism products coming up regularly, it requires an understanding and an orientation towards the customer to create a better product. The importance of tourism consultants in bringing great products to market is yet to be realised and is on my wish-list.
tive. I have no particular favourite as a destination. I
say, I prefer to see, taste and feel the destination through a local perspechave enjoyed almost every place I have been to, as I have found some-