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.

TravTalk - India - - Youth Talk - MEGHA PAUL

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-

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