New Delhi: Indian Association of Travel and Tourism Experts (IATTE), India’s only virtual forum which has been instrumental in bringing together several verticals of the tourism industry, recently concluded a webinar discussing the Future Trends of Tourism Industry in India.
The event was attended by Ms Meenakshi Sharma, DG Tourism, Ministry of Tourism; Mr Rajan Sehgal, President IGTA; Mr Anil Sharma, Producer, Director and Writer; Mr Ashwini Khurana, President Karma Lakelands; Mr Bettaiah Lokesh, Hon. Secretary-General TAAI; Mr Abinash Manghani, CEO, Welcome Heritage Hotels and Mr Kush Kapoor, CEO Roseate Hotels & Resorts
Mr Naveen Manchanda, President IATTE, in his opening remarks, lauded the efforts of the entire team that has led to the outstanding success seen by the forum to reach over 1600 members and the launching of its Andaman and Gujrat and chapters.
Starting the conversation, Ms Meenakshi Sharma, DG Tourism, Ministry of Tourism, said that to plan for future we must learn from our present. The biggest challenge for the tourism industry has been that it was not even considered an industry by most of the nations which was mostly due to its diversification.
Diversification which is an asset a lot of times needs to be organised and recognised. There is a need to have our value chain well defined at least at a think tank level. Ministry of tourism and state governments have worked together to bring the entire sector together.
Sharing her experience from being part of several tourism groups, she appreciated how the industry has taken up the challenges that came with COVID.
She added that as the tourism trends are changing, it is important for the industry to look at ways to create products as per the guest’s requirements to offer them more experiential tourism products.
Looking at the dynamics of the current circumstances the products being offered to guests must offer flexibility and assurance of safe travel. This would help in gaining consumer confidence.
The uncertainty that still surrounds international travel, domestic tourism to nearby destinations within drivable distances is an upcoming trend that industry needs to prepare for.
Mr Rajan Sehgal, President IGTA: said that Indian tourists are hungry to travel and most of it will happen within India. Wellness being the key reason, would lead them to travel places closer to nature and /or heritage properties.
He believes film and golf tourism is bound to give a boost to domestic tourism. Golf resorts that naturally offer social distancing, have been doing good business recently. The weddings and pilgrimage tours too will increase in coming days.
Mr. Ashwini Khurana, President Karma Lakelands Resort, sharing his experiences told the panel how business in November 2020 has been much better as compared to November 2019, this he believes is because the resort is within drivable distance from nearby cities and offers outdoor and environmental experiences. This also indicates the upcoming trends within the tourism sector and gives an idea of what to expect in the coming days.
Mr Anil Sharma, Producer, Director and Writer in the Bollywood Industry, believes that there are several destinations within India that can not be matched by any other place in the world, and offer a great opportunity for the Indian tourism sector.
According to him the year 2021-2022 would see the demand for film tourism rising particularly due to uncertainty related to international travel
From filmmakers point of view, he suggests that there are several issues that need to be addressed by the tourism Industry overall to ensure good business from the film industry, these are mostly relating to connectivity to these places, availability of good medical facilities, accommodation options.
Sharing his experiences, he says that going for shooting a film at an international destination, they know get offered world-class facilities by the local governments, subsidies for shooting in these destinations. They take discounts and in return help the government promote activities.
Learning from this, Indian establishments and state governments must look into making of films easier in their regions.
Sharing his thoughts, Mr Bettaiah Lokesh, Hon. Secretary-General TAAI, says that with clear signs of domestic tourism reviving before the opening of International borders, Golf Tourism can come up as a big player.
India that has some of the world’s best golf resorts and these coupled with a destination could do wonders for the tourism industry. The key to this success would be sharing the knowledge with the guests and making them aware of facilities at the destination that makes them feel safe and comfortable.
Tourism stakeholders, including tourism ministry, airlines, hotel Industry and tour operator should get together to come up with comprehensive plan to promote golf tourism, and implement it by February, to see the results in the next financial years.
Agreeing to the thoughts of other panellists, Mr Abinash Manghani, CEO, Welcome Heritage Hotels, shared that the trends with their hotel chain clearly suggest building interest of guests towards nature and wildlife.
The trends also show that the bookings for their hotels in destinations that are within three to six hours drive from major cities have outperformed the booking from the same time period in 2019.
He said that in the coming days we may see a new set of destinations emerging as tourist spots that were not known to Indian or international tourists.
Sharing some of the most interesting insights from his experiences, Mr Kush Kapoor, CEO Roseate Hotels & Resorts, shared that several employees of the hotel industry who worked in big cities, and were from small towns, had returned back to their homes during the lockdown and have not been willing to go back. Some of them have resorted to opening up of small restaurants and eateries in these places. This in turn is a good sign for developing of the tourism industry in these places.
He believes that among several upcoming trends, youth taking short breaks, coming up of co-working spaces for those who want to come away for a day and go back to their homes, casual dining are some upcoming trends.
Cruise lines and seaplanes are soon becoming part of the Indian tourism Industry. The Solo travellers who would have travelled abroad but got stuck in India, on a positive note will come to aid of the Indian Tourism Industry.
The session concluded with Mr Naveen Manchanda’s closing remarks with the need for the tourism industry to stay together and remain connected to share knowledge with each other.
“We cannot be divided and expect miracles. The only way to create miracles is by staying united”