The Ministry of Tourism (MOT) is set to organise Global Travel Mart in association with FAITH from September 16-18 and International Buddhist Conclave from August 26-28. Rashmi Verma, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, sheds more light on these exhibitions.
Global Travel Mart
The Ministry of Tourism is undertaking several initiatives to boost tourism as well as business opportunities for the travel trade. Rashmi Verma said, “For a long time, the industry demanded that we should have a Global Travel Mart in our country on the lines of WTM and ITB, and this year we have finalised the mart in partnership with the industry. MOT will be organising this Global Travel Mart from September 16-18 in Delhi with participants from all over the world. About 200-250 foreign delegates as well as media will also participate in the event. The entire travel trade industry will be our partners and their apex organisation, Federation of Associations in Indian Travel and Hospitality (FAITH) will be doing it with us in partnership.”
She claimed that the mart will provide equal opportunities to small tour operators who cannot travel around the world for different trade shows. “This new initiative is set to give a lot of fillip to the tourist traffic to the country. Unlike the big players who participate in fairs around the world and interact with tour operators, the small agents are not able to travel abroad. Hence, this will give an opportunity for all of them and interact with their counterparts and do business,” she added. There will also be Fam tours for the delegates before and after the mart.
Buddhist Tourism Conclave
Verma also revealed that a lot of focus is being given to Buddhist sites in India. “In our attempt to reinforce India as the largest land of Buddha, we are getting a thematic film made on Buddhist sites in India, inviting people to come to India and walk on the footsteps of Buddha. We also have a dedicated media campaign for the Buddhist circuit in India, which we will run in ASEAN countries as well as in other countries like the US and Germany, where there is a lot of interest in Buddhism,” she said.
With greater awareness about these sites, we will be able to encourage traffic from these countries to our country. “We have 50 crore Buddhists around the world but the numbers to India are extremely low. We feel that with enhanced marketing initiatives, we can double the numbers soon. We are also focusing on infrastructure development at the Buddhist sites. We have sanctioned about six projects under Swadesh Darshan in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh for development of infrastructure and basic amenities. We will also develop wayside amenities in these places and improve road connectivity. In fact, we have written to the roads department for taking up certain roads which connect these sites on priority. We are also focusing on air connectivity to these destinations and undertaking initiatives to incentivise the airlines to have more flights to these sites.”
In line with this agenda, MOT recently conducted roadshows in Buddhist countries, revealed Verma. “In line with promotion of Buddhist tourism in India, we just concluded roadshows in four countries – Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. We are also organising a Buddhist Conclave from August 26-28 to conduct business meetings. A few prominent monks from these countries are expected to attend the event. After the inauguration at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi, all the delegates will be flown to Ajanta and Ellora caves by charter flights. This is the first time we will be showcasing other sites related to Buddhism. We will then take them to Bodh Gaya and Sarnath.”
Vouching for UDAN
The Ministry is also in talks with the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) for boosting air connectivity to major tourist sites. Verma revealed, “Last week, a meeting was held with MoCA in which our minister met the Civil Aviation minister and discussed how we can enhance air connectivity to Buddhist sites as well as to our iconic sites. Some areas are totally unserviced, hence they will be covered under UDAN, but areas with connectivity are also underserviced, and there is a need for flights. Hence, we are hopeful that very soon, the Civil Aviation Ministry will come up with a scheme and strategy.”
Use of funds under service sector
The services sector has recently got a grant of ₹5000 crore, and tourism is also part of it. Talking about how they will use this money, Verma said, “Increased footfalls would mean greater foreign exchange earnings and more employment opportunities. Hence, we are working out a plan for putting up our demands from that fund. Apart from investing on marketing and connectivity, we are also focusing on skilling people under that fund for which we are drawing an action plan soon, to be sent to the Ministry of Commerce.”
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