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India needs to adopt ‘Global Best Practices’ to drive tourism growth

Experts believe that its time that India needs to stay ahead of the curve by adopting new practices and having a whole new approach to the industry rather than competing with other tourism authorities. This was the summary of the SATTE panel discussion on ‘Staying Ahead in the Game by Incorporating Best Practices from Across the Globe’. The panel was moderated by Rohit Kohli, Joint Managing Director, Creative Travel and panelists were Carl Vaz, Chairman and CEO, Charson Advisory, Brand Management and Representation; Gerard Brown, International Tourism Development Director, UBM Aviation, Routes and Zulkifli Mohammed Said, Director, International Promotion, Tourism Malaysia.

“We are an industry in decline. We, as an industry, collectively need to identify our weaknesses and know exactly where our industry stands today. Far smaller destinations with far smaller tourism infrastructure are taking over, which is a cause of worry for India,” Kohli said and posed a question whether stakeholders of the industry are really working in synergy or is there still a disconnect?

Agreeing with him, Vaz opined that there has been a lot of fragmentation between the tourism stakeholders in India which is contrary to mature destinations where the industry speaks in one voice. “India doesn’t have sufficient number of representation offices internationally which becomes very difficult for the private players to reach out to the international market,” Vaz said. Brown echoed the opinion. “It is very overwhelming to see so many different travel agent or trade associations in one country. However, this kind of fragmentation is going to make it very difficult for the Indian industry to solve their current issues and challenges. Travel associations are supposed to be the backbone the country’s travel industry and this backbone can never be strong if it is not united,” Brown said.

Kohli said that industry has not been able to create one strong platform due to smaller issues. “We don’t seem to be getting along in the smallest of issues; hence, synergy is required between us. We need to reach a level of understanding that the industry is more important than other internal petty issues,” he suggested. Going a step further, Brown said that there is complete disconnect among the tourism authorities, tourism bodies, ministry of tourism and the airports. “I have seen airports proactively knocking on the doors of airlines and asking for a specific route to be added or expanded but do not get support from tourism bodies,” Brown said adding that all the major airports around India want to expand US services but this has not been supported by the external tourism bodies.

Vaz opined that the travel industry still doesn’t have a clear direction for implementing the PPP model. “We have been discussing about public-private- partnership for a very long time now and in India it is yet to be implemented in the true sense. Other tourism boards highlight certain products and brands and this is not happening in India. ‘Incredible India’ campaign has helped build a presence in the international market through participation in travel marts etc but nothing beyond that has ever been implemented,” he said and added that there is a need to have ‘Incredible India’ specialist programmes like other National Tourist Offices.

Commenting on the quality service providers from the global travel and tourism industry, Zulkifli Mohammed Said stated that the biggest challenges of the travel and tourism industry in the world is the quality of human resource. “It is very taxing and frustrating when one is trying to sell or promote a destination but the local service providers are not proactive,” he said.

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