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Affirming the tremendous growth of the online sector, Union Tourism Secretary Lalit K. Panwar stated that India should leverage the technology especially apps to ensure security and safety of foreign travelers, particularly of women.

He was speaking at the e-Tailing & Travel Commerce Conference 2015 organized by IAMAI. In his valedictory address, he stated that 50 per cent of the travel industry has gone online and it is further growing. Also, he urged upon the industry to partner with the Government to come up with comprehensive plans to make India truly incredible in the real sense of term.

Panwar added, “We want to make India a travelers’ hub and to do so various steps have been taken by the government. One of these is introducing electronic tourist visas, we have seen many travelers who want to come to India and hence we have eased the visa process. From the time of its launch, we have issued more than 200,000 visas across 85 countries in which alone US holds 41% of them.”

The conference which was focused on the opportunities and challenges in e-commerce and online travel segment has seen participation of many prominent speakers including founders and CEOs from various startups addressing the knowledge sharing sessions.

Speaking on the implication of Goods and Service Tax (GST), Bipin Sapra, Partner – Tax & Regulatory service, EY said, “GST will have a greater impact o the way companies do business. It will not only imply on sale or purchase but on other things too which are required in transacting. We are expecting GST to be closer to 20% in which both Centre and State will share 10% each. In this bill we can see a new category of tax payers which will be called ‘Aggregators’ which provides consumers a platform to meet buyers or sellers.” He further stated that GST will highly impact the cash flow in the economy, P&L and will prevent the cash leakage. It will impact all the business related processes, contract and technology and thus companies will have to prepare themselves to change the way they do business.

Talking on how social media is driving digital conversations in tourism and hospitality industry Hari Nair, Founder & CEO, Holiday IQ told, “From past few years, we have seen a lot of growth in the social platform. Day by day more people are joining in and in future the social platform is going to be a key market driver. Only from social platform, almost 11000 people participate in HolidayIQ on a monthly basis and out of total traffic, 40% are directed through social platforms only.”

Focusing on the challenges of the sector Manoj Agarwal, Co-Founder, Giftxoxo stated, “Social platform is full of discounts and used often for planning things out but there is lack of genuine content required for people’s awareness. And this is the sector where the social media needs to grow. Another challenge which we face is measuring the return on investment (RoI).”

 Nikhil Ganju, Country Manager, Trip Advisor India, in his address said, “We have robust presence across social media. We were one of the first 8 companies to tie up with Facebook where the social media giant opened its platform for advertising and marketing. The major challenge in advertising or marketing on social platform is deciding on the budget allocation. Unlike TV and other mediums, we cannot measure the conversion on social platform.”

The session was followed by a discussion on Investor’s perspective on The Next Paradigm of Ecommerce and Travel Sector in India, which focussed on good leadership and business module. Mr. Tarun Dawda, Venture Investor, Matrix Partners highlighted that today’s market is full of opportunities and smart entrepreneurs. People today are spotting opportunities quickly and leveraging upon the available investors who are ready to invest in any strategically planned business model.

Further in the session Harish Bahl, Entrepreneur and Investor – Technology Businesses, Smile Group stated “Syndication is the major factor in setting up a business. However in market, we have more capital givers than that of capital takers and they search for a founder who has a great idea along with strategies to drive in the economy with existing competition.” On raising funds, he believes that it is not very good to raise funds from various points. The smaller the boardroom, the efficient and smooth will be the decisions.

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