The year 2013 was a tough year for the tourism and hospitality sector. To brainstorm the emerging challenges that hinder the sector’s growth, the national Thought Leadership Meet, organised by Assocham, called upon eminent leaders from the industry.
The panel for the discussion included Dipak Haksar, Chairman, National Council for Tourism & Hospitality, Assocham and COO, ITC; Ajay Bakaya, Executive Director, Sarovar Hotels; Rahul Pandit, President & Executive Director, Lemon Tree Hotels; Homa Mistry, CEO, Trail Blazer Tours India; Rohit Kohli, Joint Managing Director, Creative Travel and Chander Mansharamani, Managing Director, Alpcord Travels. The session was moderated by Manav Thadani, Chairman, HVS- Asia Pacific.
Thadani touched upon the need of state-of-the-art infrastructure across the country. Pandit promptly added the difficulty in getting various regulatory approvals for doing business in India. “Incredible India has the top travel attraction, but is not among the top destinations to do travel business,” he said.
According to Bakaya, the geometric rise in the travel demand has eased out and the growth momentum will not come back till the Indian economy gets back on the high growth trajectory. Optimistic Mistry added that the stability in the travel markets is setting in after a bad season.
The missing tool is the research element, Mansharamani pointed out. “India has not done any thorough research, especially in the MICE domain. As a result, we are not developing the required infrastructure in line with the global market trends,” he stated.
Kohli opined that, one of the best ways out is that the governments plays the role of enabler and allows the rest to be taken care of by the private sector. “The need is to explore synergies between the governments. The state and the center, the states among themselves should keep exploring the various possibilities to jointly work and promote tourism in India. The best way forward is to look at the possibility of promoting niche tourism, such as golf and medical tourism,” he added.
Another important issue is to check the loopholes in policy making, said Pandit. “It would have been more appropriate to include small and medium sized hotel projects with outlay of Rs. 200-300 crores in the infrastructure list, which presently only covers Rs. 1000 crore projects. This will help add to the requirement of quality budget accommodation across the country. Another innovative way of enhancing efficiency and bringing down costs at the private sector level could be done by taking employment opportunities to new cities and exploring the potential of the differently abled. We have started using the skills of differently abled people in accordance to the skills they can be thought fully. The results have been fabulous. In fact, we soon will have a new property that will be operated by differently abled professionals,” he said.