All plans and all ideas are good, but nothing will happen if they are not backed by solid actions
Commemorating India’s ongoing Presidency at Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, hosted the SCO Travel Mart on the side lines of the recently concluded SATTE 2023. No less than 24 countries participated in the Mart, a testimony to the growing interest in travel and tourism as a strong economic activity and a catalyst of economic development and job creation. Sadly, there is little tourism amongst the SCO member countries when compared to regional tourism within regions like the European Union. The event was also marked with an engaging panel discussion that mooted a 7A Model to develop tourism amongst the SCO member countries.
The Year 2023 is significant for India and India Tourism in more ways than others. It is a ‘first’ that India holds the Presidency of two powerful international inter-governmental bodies, G20 and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), simultaneously. G20 accounts for about 85 per cent of the World’s GDP, 75 per cent of international trade and two-thirds of the world population. A leading inter-governmental organisation in the world, it is focussed mainly on economic issues and comprising 19 major national economies along with the European Union.
More regional in its spread, SCO represents 40 per cent of the world population as well as more than 30 per cent of the world GDP and includes India’s immediate neighbours like China and Pakistan and strategic partner and time-tested friend like Russia. And the grouping is only expected to expand in the foreseeable future.
Assuming the Presidency of such illustrious groupings is not only a tremendous opportunity to boost trade and commerce and country’s profile on the global platform but also presents great opportunity to build country’s international tourism. There is an opportunity to help transform such occasions (Presidency) as catalysts towards building an ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ or ‘a developed economy’ as the Government envisions India to be at the end of ‘Amrit Kaal’ when India celebrates its 100th year of independence.
But how do we do that? SATTE 2023 brought up an interesting panel discussion on SCO opportunity to help build regional tourism for member countries by leveraging SCO’s source market potential for each other. And while the discussion invited some interesting suggestions and insights, FAITH’s (Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality) Consulting CEO Aashish Gupta stressed the need to put in structure and strategy to leverage opportunities like SCO and proposed a ‘7A Modal’, namely Audit, Aim/Goal, Awareness, Alliance, Attract, Action and Awarding, in order to achieve the desired result.
He noted, “So far, many great ideas have come up. But my point is, how can we enable this and make all this happen. I think it is very important to have the right structure and strategy to enable all this. For this, I propose a 7A modal. I think first we need to audit what is already happening. In 2005, SCO tied up with UNWTO, so first and foremost we need to audit all the activities that have already happened to understand what worked and what did not work.”
The second A, he said, is that there is need to set up an aim or goal in place. He said, “The aim has to be to increase the share of intra-regional travel. Worldwide short-haul intra-regional travel has the highest share in overall international tourist arrivals. This needs to be ensured in the SCO region too. I am assuming that the share of SCO countries in India’s inbound arrivals will not be more than 7 or 8 per cent. We need to take it up to at least 50 per cent. The same should be the goal of each member of the SCO.”
Third A is awareness. Gupta said that all SCO countries have to be aware of the entire tangible and intangible inventory that they have. “Many SCO countries have heritages going back 3000 to 5000 years. We need to have awareness about all the tourism assets, hard as well as soft assets,” he pointed while noting the fourth A is as alliance. “We need to ally. We need to ally at three levels: number one, government to government level, (federal) governments to states (provinces), and states to private players,” he said.
The fifth A, he said, is to attract. “We have an SCO travel mart, but we need to institutionalize it. We need to ensure that we have more and more multi-marketing efforts. We need to hold joint global meetings to attract visitors to the region to increase its share and the share of each country in global tourist arrivals,” Gupta argued. The next A, he noted, is for action. Gupta said that things will not move in the absence of a plan and action. “It does not matter what we say or plan. Be it in the area of connectivity, training, infrastructure or institutions, all of the good points we are raising will fall flat if we don’t take action,” he stressed.
The final A was attributed to awarding. The FAITH Consulting CEO emphasised the need to recognise and reward good plans and actions as well as good efforts made by the stakeholders so that a virtuous cycle of growth is set in motion to make the SCO region a winning tourism region.
“All plans and all ideas are good, but nothing will happen if they are not backed by solid actions,” Gupta said while concluding.