The 13th Annual Convention of Adventure Tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI) held in Kumarakom, Kerala, was attended by over 400 delegates from 16 states. Around 50 exhibitors showcased their products.
The ATOAI Convention at Kerala received an excellent response from the participants, informs Tejbir Singh Anand, Vice President, ATOAI. He elaborates, “With each year, the ATOAI conventions have been getting better. We moved away from the regular format of just business sessions. Our conventions now offer real time activities and experiences along with knowledge sessions. It is based on a three-night fourday format with maximum deliberations. It has deeper impact on all delegates to go back with hands-on experience to sell the destination and product accurately to their clients.”
The theme of the convention – Emerging Pathways – resonated through the business sessions and the destination that was chosen for the convention. Anand points out that the business sessions encouraged stakeholders to create partnerships and engage with seemingly non related brands in the apparel, media and communications sectors etc. which may have the potential to break profit barriers and grow business through identifying and tapping into previously untapped markets. The sessions also dwelled upon untapped opportunities and out-ofthe-box ideas from the best in the business; acquiring practical knowledge about digital marketing; understanding risk and managing outcomes; getting practical with adventure insurance; practical application in adventure travel operations and how the industry players can benefit from introducing systems, processes and automation in their business.
Anand feels that Kerala has been at the forefront of Indian tourism and is now attempting to brand itself as a great destination which offers adventure and active experiences too. “With around 400 delegates experiencing Kerala on the active side, it has already made an impact and the trade has gone back after witnessing the potential of active journeys in Kerala. Kerala, after realising the potential of adventure tourism, has already sanctioned a lot of funds for the promotion and development of adventure travel in the state,” adds Anand.
Identifying the trend in travel business, Anand asserts that adventure travel is now redefining travel in general. This segment, which was once niche, has not only become mainstream, but is now leading it. He explains, “A sustainable, responsible, eco-friendly world is increasingly gravitating towards the offerings of this genre whose core is now being defined as being in a natural environment, learning and meaningful experiences. The new adventure traveller is seeking transformation, expanded worldview, nature and discovery, mental health, learning, connections, fun and thrill, better physical health and unique experiences.”
Further, in the field of adventure tourism, products are being created across the length and breadth of the country, beyond the Himalayas. Every destination is curating and creating its own adventure products. Anand says, “New adventure products and newer regions offering adventure activities are populating the map. These are very interesting times for our industry. These new opportunities also come with new sets of challenges, like safety and sustainability, skilled manpower and right regulatory environment, educating and developing the right perspective for the fraternity.