Business in God’s Own Country
As some regional tour operators move beyond the metros to make their mark in specific regions, speaks to EM Najeeb, Chairman, Air Travel Enterprise Group about how travel and tourism business has been evolving in Kerala over the last few years
Inbound, domestic and outbound tourism have been consistently growing in Kerala. During the last five years, there has been an average of 10 per cent increase every year in the inbound tourism to Kerala. Outbound tourism has been also growing considerably. Keralites unlike before have started travelling in greater numbers. They are 100 per cent literate and majority of the population is well-educated. There is also excellent connectivity from Kerala by air to all major locations in the world from the three international airports in Kerala, making it conducive for tourism.
The new liquor policy could have an impact on the sector, and we want the government to formulate an ‘industry- friendly’ policy. Sectors such as MICE Tourism would be largely hit by the new policy. If Sunday is declared as ‘dry day’, it will affect the MICE segment as majority of conferences and meetings are scheduled on weekends as well. There is also a general appre- hension among stakeholders that the new liquor policy would affect tourism prospects of the country in general and turn Kerala into the last preferred destination.
Along with the economic growth of the country, cities and towns are developing as happening locations in terms of economic activities. Next to the metros, ‘B’ and ‘C’ cities, and LevelI and -II townships have become fertile markets for tourism. A good section of the population is depending on online bookings for tourism products, even while they buy from traditional holiday shops. The youth segment looks for weekend holidays, adventure and eco-tourism and nature rich locations.
Air Travel Enterprises India and the Great India Tour Company of our group have been earnestly putting efforts in developing tours in the Kerala region. We are promoting inbound, domestic and outbound tourism in Kerala. Also we work handin-hand with the Kerala Tourism for effective destination promotion. Aimed at the market in the region, we have various packages including short hol- iday options for people looking for holidays within the state, other locations within the country and also destinations abroad. Our network of offices mobilise the sales of the packages and reach them to every segments of the market.
Tour operators in metro cities have an advantage of being in the midst of a highly buoyant market with a pool of buyers. Their positioning within the market will automatically leverage their growth. The regional tour operator has to find buyers from scattered markets. Also it is often found that principals, be it airlines or hotels, choose to offer their best deals to the operators in such cities than to others. This gives them a great advantage than the other operators.
A regional tour operator with a long- standing in the market has a very special advantage of knowing every segment and pocket of the market. There will be a great amount of personal relationship and rapport between the operator and the buyers. Unlike metros, with floating population, the regional markets are permanent dwellers. This helps the long-standing relationship and trust.
Going forward to future, the demand in the market will keep on increasing in its pace and percentage, as there is a natural growth taking place in the economic and social activities. Offer of excellent products suitable for their requirements will multiply the demand.