Make tourism pri­or­ity to pro­pel in­bound

In­bound tourism is pass­ing through a rough patch and the in­dus­try needs new ways and means to pro­pel this sec­tor. It’s time the in­dus­try looks be­yond its con­ven­tional source mar­kets and de­vel­ops in­no­va­tive prod­ucts to give a breath of fresh air to in­bound

TravTalk - India - - GUEST COLUMN - Bharat Bhushan Atree Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor Ca­per Travel Com­pany

Ac­cord­ing to the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum’s Global Travel and Tourism Com­pet­i­tive­ness Re­port 2017, In­dia’s rank­ing in the Travel and Tourism Com­pet­i­tive­ness In­dex (TTCI) moved up 12 po­si­tions from 52 in 2015 to 40 in 2017. In­dia is one of the coun­tries that im­proved the most, how­ever, it still lagged be­hind its Asian coun­ter­parts like Ja­pan and China, which oc­cu­pied the 4th and 13th ranks, re­spec­tively.

In­dia as a coun­try and as an econ­omy has pro­gressed very well in the last decade in terms of its in­fras­truc­ture. Be it seam­less road con­nec­tiv­ity; world class air­ports; ho­tels of in­ter­na­tional stan­dards; power gen­er­a­tion; rapidly evolv­ing tech­nol­ogy; au­to­mo­bile; ad­vance­ment in space tech­nol­ogy etc., In­dia has gained across var­i­ous spec­trums com­pared to other coun­tries. There is an em­pha­sis on train­ing and ed­u­ca­tion as well, and all these ad­vance­ments have di­rectly or in­di­rectly aided in in­creas­ing the travel and tourism com­pet­i­tive­ness and growth of In­dia as a tourist desti­na­tion. How­ever, de­spite all these ad­vance­ments, In­dia still lags be­hind its Asian com­peti­tors when it comes to be­ing the most favoured tourist desti­na­tion among in­ter­na­tional tourists. This is prob­a­bly be­cause tourism does not seem to be a pri­or­ity sec­tor in the coun­try. Till date, we do not have a well-de­fined tourism pol­icy and other chal­lenges in­clude lack of ef­fec­tive pro­mo­tion at both na­tional and in­ter­na­tional plat­forms. To add to it all is the unfriendly tax struc­ture on ho­tels, which has been ag­gra­vated by the in­tro­duc­tion of Goods and Ser­vices Tax (GST) for the tourism and hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor.

The in­bound tourism in­dus­try has be­come very sen­si­tive and un­sta­ble. With chang­ing times, the world is go­ing through a ma­jor cri­sis, be it in the form of ter­ror­ism, eco­nomic slow­down or lack of growth. In In­dia, with the new tax regime, changes in var­i­ous poli­cies and lack of clear vi­sion for tourism, the in­dus­try is in a tur­moil. Then there is the unor­gan­ised na­ture of this sec­tor. There are small fly-by-night op­er­a­tors mush­room­ing across the coun­try who op­er­ate from their homes at no op­er­at­ing cost and lure tourists with cheap prices us­ing free and un­li­censed guides which add to the neg­a­tive pub­lic­ity of the coun­try as an un­safe and un­re­li­able tourist desti­na­tion. I sug­gest and rec­om­mend that the in­dus­try must join hands, con­sol­i­date and fight these times to­gether.

The in­dus­try has a pool of tal­ented pro­fes­sion­als and it is just a mat­ter of putting our act to­gether. If young pro­fes­sion­als with ex­pe­ri­ence and pas­sion for their pro­fes­sion col­lab­o­rate, dis­cuss, churn out new ideas, de­velop new in­no­va­tive prod­ucts, ex­plore newer mar­kets, in­tro­duce and adapt new tech­nol­ogy and also fo­cus on qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing, I am sure there are no chal­lenges which can­not be over­come when it comes to pro­pel­ling In­dia’s growth as a tourism hub.

I be­lieve the key lies in the fact that the var­i­ous stake­hold­ers of both the tourism and hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­tries need to unite as a sin­gle en­tity to deal with the chal­lenges head-on, with an el­e­ment of pro­fes­sion­al­ism. In­dia as a coun­try has ev­ery­thing that a tourist would look for and we too can at­tract large num­bers of for­eign tourists if we have the vi­sion and unity amongst our­selves.

As far as our ho­tel in­dus­try is con­cerned, they are not fo­cus­ing on the in­bound seg­ment as they used to be­cause busi­ness has be­come un­pre­dictable, prices are shrink­ing and so is their profit mar­gin. That is why ho­tels are fo­cus­ing on other ver­ti­cals like wed­dings, MICE, cor­po­rates, OTAs and do­mes­tic tourism.

The tourist sea­son is go­ing to start from Oc­to­ber and we have a se­ries of ma­jor fairs and ex­hi­bi­tions world­wide. We need to make the best use of these fairs. In­dia Tourism should present it­self with a lot of pomp and show like In­dian Ma­haraja, at­tract­ing a lot of me­dia eye­balls, both print and elec­tronic. They should be vis­i­ble in so­cial me­dia. It should be backed up by the In­cred­i­ble In­dia cam­paign on buses and other medi­ums which was done ag­gres­sively in the past. I un­der­stand col­lec­tive plan­ning and ef­fort will cre­ate in­ter­est and this will def­i­nitely in­crease the tourist num­bers.

There is an em­pha­sis on train­ing and ed­u­ca­tion as well and all these ad­vance­ments have di­rectly or in­di­rectly aided in in­creas­ing the travel and tourism com­pet­i­tive­ness and growth of In­dia as a tourist desti­na­tion

( The views ex­pressed are solely of the au­thor. The pub­li­ca­tion may or may not sub­scribe to the same.)

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