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GES expects presence of 200 foreign tour operators

Sangeeta Godbole Sangeeta Godbole

Wellness, healthcare and adventure tourism will be promoted in a big way at GES.  Sangeeta Godbole, Director General, Service Export Promotion Council, talks exclusively to T3 on the upcoming GES with a focus on tourism and hospitality. Excerpts from interview:

 

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, in association with Services Export Promotion Council and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) is organising the 4th edition of the Global Exhibition on Services (GES) from May 15-18, 2018 at Bombay Exhibition Centre, Mumbai. The objective is to provide a platform to all the stakeholders from the services industry and other related industry to interact with, and explore new business avenues. GES also aims at forging international collaboration amongst the ministries to reinforce business relationships, thus ensuring economic growth for India and the collaborating nations. The event is set to accelerate avenues for partnerships and tie ups with B2B, B2G and B2C meetings.

What is the main focus of 4th edition of GES?

The Department of Commerce is aiming to position India as a services economy and services providers in the world. This year, again, GES is coming up with 22 sectors. It’s a more broad kind of show where the idea is to tell the world that India is promoting its services. The Cabinet has taken the decision to promote champion sector initiative in 12 sectors. These include IT/ITeS, tourism and hospitality, medical value travel, transport and logistics, accounting and finance, audio visual services, legal services, communication, construction and related engineering, environmental services and education.

Why the host city for GES shifted to Mumbai from Delhi?

Generally, we move from one region to another region to expose the potential of the region. We organised Advantage Healthcare in Delhi and then shifted it to Bengaluru. India is a quite a large country and we need to explore different regions and give them global exposure as well as leverage strengths of the particular region for exports of Services. 

Do you think that Mumbai is a right choice for tourism?

Mumbai is close to very interesting destinations and experiences like the world famous Buddhist caves of Ajanta, the newly developing wine experience of the Nashik Valley, the brand new scuba diving center in Sindhudurg district. We will take the invited travel operators on FAM tours for these experiences. The Department of Commerce is not a commercial organisation. They have several objectives in mind when they set up any event. The idea is to take the international buyers to the different destinations. Mumbai is the commercial capital of India. Most of our large companies are housed in Mumbai.

How many buyers are expected for tourism sector?

We are expecting about 200 foreign buyers. We are working with several travel and hospitality associations such as Indian Association of Tour Operators, Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India, FAITH, Adventure Tour Operators Association of India and many more. We want to bring all the associations on board. We have asked them for buyer recommendation. We want tourism segment to be one of the main highlights at the GES. While India as a tourism destination will be promoted at GES, we plan to focus on wellness, healthcare and adventure tourism to reveal the potential of these segments to the global tourism market. Our focus has always been to offer the best experience to our guests.

How is the response from exhibitors?

All state governments are invited by the Department of Commerce to formulate their export policy in Goods as well as services and tourism is one of the major components in this. Around two months ago, the Department of Commerce invited State Commerce Ministers to have a brainstorming on the export policy. This has happened for the first time and that is why states are more than eager to be present at GES. We hope to get as many states as we can get. Goa, Maharashtra, have already confirmed good pavilions. Ministry of Tourism is fully on board.

What should be the way forward to promote India as a destination?

India would really have to focus on branding itself. I personally feel that there should be a perception study. What is the perception about India and from where it comes?  Is there a gap between perception and reality? Today, travellers are so informed that they are selecting their holidays as per their choice. Here, authentic experiences play a major role in wooing tourists. There must have a perception management so that there is no gap between perception and reality.

Secondly, the second important thing is the location shooting. We want foreign films to be shot in India. States have realized the value of having films shot at their locale. We are not getting foreign films shooting in India as we have not marketed India as a film shooting destination. We have so many charming destinations, but ease of shooting at these locations has to be put on priority mode.

We hope that industry do fantastic business in GES. As you may know SEPC's tag line is "ONLY BUSINESS, NO GYAN', and we try our best to make it come true.

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