2023: Tread with cautious optimism

With the tourism business witnessing green shoots of revival, the industry stakeholders look at the New Year with hope and a whole lot of caution. It is not yet time to relax but ensure this boom sustains amid a spurt in COVID-19 cases. TRAVTALK finds out what the decision-makers have to say.

G Kishan Reddy, Union Minister for Tourism, Government of India
In the years to come, the Indian diaspora will be eager to witness Ayodhya, Kushinagar, Varanasi, and Amritsar. Char Dham, Kedarnath, and Badrinath are also top attractions for spiritual tourism. The tourism department will promote 100 IC centres. The department is also looking forward to promoting river tourism. Since connectivity is key to a country’s growth, India is building 30 km of national highway every day. Now, the journey from Srilan to Gauti takes two and a half hours. The G20 meetings are also bound to steer tourism.

Jyotiraditya Scindia, Union Minister for Civil Aviation, Government of India
UDAN is an ambitious scheme of the Government of India, under which during the last six years, since its inception in 2016, nearly 1.15 crore people who had never travelled in an aeroplane were able to undertake journey. Eleven airlines are currently part of UDAN, out of which three are startups, whereas 70 new airports have been established. Apart from these, we are going to establish 68 new airports by the end of 2024. As on November 30, 2022, after four rounds of bidding under UDAN, 453 routes have commenced, operationalising 70 airports.

Arvind Singh, Secretary, Tourism, Government of India
We have started with WTM London and then the next two events that we are looking at in Europe are Fitur in Madrid and the ITM Berlin. We are slowly now scaling it up because as domestic tourism is getting back on the track to pre-COVID levels, we need to attract more tourists from abroad and that is why we will be participating in international events. Also, the G20 Presidency will give a big boost to India’s image or cultural heritage destinations. The 55 places where the meetings are, they will definitely get showcased.

Rakesh Kumar Verma, Additional Secretary, Tourism, Government of India
As we are recovering from the pandemic, we have seen our domestic sector has already grown and we have really achieved record footfall at many destinations. And after opening up of the international travel, I think now our focus is to ensure that the inbound also recovers to pre-pandemic level. I think there is already significant recovery, and we hope by 2023 we should be able to recover inbound traffic to pre-pandemic level. That is where we are working with industry and with other state governments.

ASSOCIATION

Ajay Prakash, President, TAFI
The hope is that the industry will move ahead in the new year as the geopolitical situation also plays a big role in tourism. It is important that there are lesser conflicts for tourism to grow. The energy prices need to come down, all of which is influenced by geopolitics as well. And of course, you can never rule out natural disasters. Cautiously optimistic is how I would look at the new year. The industry is resilient. That is the only way we have survived with zero support. It will, however, be good to have an environment that enables us to do business in a more seamless manner. All things considered, anything that happens in 2023 will only be better than 2021-2022. So if we can get our act together in terms of promotion, our inbound market can grow.

Rajiv Mehra, President, IATO
In 2023, we expect our policy makers to offer a kind view to our suggestions, especially on the marketing and promotional front. Marketing & Promotion is at the top of the agenda, along with physical roadshows in target countries under the leadership of Ministry of Tourism. We expect financial support under Marketing Development Assistance (MDA) Scheme of the MOT. To re-store e-Visa from European countries that are key source markets such as Canada, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait. Restoration of tourist/ e-tourist visa for foreign tourists and to allow entry of foreign tourists through land borders of Nepal and Bhutan for the revival of Buddhist Tourism. In new Foreign Trade Policy, IATO recommended that the benefit of SEIS scheme should be continued for the tour operators and travel agencies for the next 5 years.

Jatinder Taneja, Vice Chairman, PATA India Chapter
There will be a lot of focus on India as a prime tourism destination in 2023. The G20 meetings, Visit India Year, establishment of the National Tourism Board and other initiatives by the Government of India will contribute significantly to bring India into focus as a premier tourist destination. With COVID paling into the past, we expect the trade to become significantly more active towards promotion of India in key international source markets. We will continue our thrust on educating our members through our two webinar products Jewels of India & Believe It or Not. Additionally, we will work with MOT to conduct result-oriented roadshows to key source markets. We are already working with a state government to conduct an exclusive roadshow for them to four overseas markets in Q1/Q3, 2023. We intend to revive our annual industry-wide meeting tourism PowerHouse.

Riaz Munshi, President, OTOAI
In 2023, I anticipate Europe should be available, as major tour operators were not able to begin their series this summer due to visa issues. None of the agents advertised or fully allegedly went ahead with group series, but they have now begun to prepare and advertise for 2023. The fact that European visa takes time, travellers are planning for the coming year. So, if they want to travel now, they must plan ahead of time and choose their travel dates accordingly. The next thing we want to focus on is our membership drive so that we can open more chapters across India. And for that we want to focus on our training programme, and we have signed an MoU with LVG training London. Another thing is that we want to strengthen our relationship with the government, so we are writing to the respective ministers about our problems. I am hopeful 2023 will be a successful year.

PP Khanna, President, ADTOI
We as an industry have learned from the pandemic that domestic tourism is the way forward. Though inbound and outbound are equally important to us, but domestic tourism had an upper hand in the revival of our tourism sector. Many states have stepped forward to host state tourism events, and there are numerous infrastructure projects underway. Keeping this in mind, we as an association are developing a states specialist programme along with state tourism boards for all the ADTOAI members so that they can be trained and can learn about the state, all the tourism products it has to offer, and then sell it to their clients. Our strategy for 2023 is to connect members with one another. We have a lot of challenges that we have seen in the past, and we are working on them so that they do not become roadblocks to next year’s success.

K. Ranga Reddy, Chairman, IATO Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana Chapter
To increase the tourism flow to India, whether it is domestic or international, we need to look into the infrastructure. Firstly, the train stations should be uplifted to handle millions of passengers. Secondly, there is also a need to decongest airports. Thirdly, the airfares have to come down at par with other international routes like ASEAN countries or the European countries in terms of what they are offering on domestic routes. More than that, they have to concentrate on infrastructure like professional drivers, professional staff at the hotels and other aligned places, wherever the tourists go and increase the tourism police also, which gives a good opportunity to say that the land order is in place and increase the domestic or the local cuisine facilities. These days people are looking for more local things than going for a multicuisine restaurant.

Ajeet Bajaj, Padma Shri Awardee, President, ATOAI
Our vision is to make India amongst the top ten adventure travel destinations in the world by 2030. ATOAI has ambitious plans for 2023. We are starting the year by organising a course in Disaster Management, First Aid and CPR for our adventure guides by the National Disaster Response Force. This will be a force multiplier in case of natural disasters in our country and impart training in First Aid, rescue and disaster management to our adventure professionals. We are looking at organising National Seminars on Responsible Adventure Tourism throughout the country, training our adventure guides and giving a huge amount of value to our membership. The first Seminar on Responsible Adventure Tourism will be conducted in Feb 2023 in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India.

EM Najeeb, Sr. Vice President, IATO
We were hopeful that we will do very well, or we will do as it was in 2019 because it was an excellent year for tourism, as far as Kerala and India is concerned. It resulted in good arrivals, good income and good revenues. We are hopeful that it will come back to 2023 and 2024. The most important thing is to survive. We have survived and now we will revive and further strengthen. I believe that both Central and State governments must support the tourism business. Tour operators, transporters, aviation, taxi drivers or other suppliers, are together working as a team to give excellent member experiences. We are extending holidays, which is a dream for any traveller. The government should recognize that, support the industry and handhold it to move forward, which can be further strengthened and attract more tourists to the country.

J K Mohanty, Chairman, IATO Eastern Region
With the easing of COVID restrictions, we expect a large number of foreign visitors to our State and 100 per cent occupancy in hospitality business. Swosti Group, in its constant endeavour to provide the best of services since 1981, has been the pioneer in the State of Odisha’s hotel industry in adding and achieving new milestone and new features each year. Now Swosti Group is soon unveiling the first five-star premium luxury beach resort Swosti Premium Beach Resorts at Puri, which have been permitted to go up to 13 floors with all rooms (125 luxury rooms, including five large luxury suits on the 12th floor) looking into miles of the Bay of Bengal & the blue sky. The work is going on in full swing and the resort will be inaugurated by Honourable Chief Minister of Odisha in early 2024.

MP Bezbaruah, Secretary General, HAI
We would like to see the government taking decisions on some things that have started. One of the things is National Tourism Board, which is considered the right thing for tourists and will be the foundation of PPP. I hope something will happen next year. We look forward to some decisions of the government on the infrastructure status of the hospitality sector, which is in the interest of the industry and the country because we are expecting a huge demand for accommodation and the gap is quite large. We are also hoping that tourism will be given due recognition. The UN General Assembly had a meeting this year for the first time to discuss the importance of tourism and they have appealed to all the governments to give tourism its due in employment creation, in an inclusive growth, in sustainability, revival of culture and heritage.

Pradeep Shetty, President, HRAWI
Absence of a uniform system for approvals and compliances is hampering the growth of the tourism and hospitality sector in the country. From the inception of a hospitality project to the day-to-day running of the establishments, the sector is tangled in the myriad web of bureaucratic processes. Different States in the country follow different licensing and compliance requirements, making the process cumbersome and time and energy consuming. For this, licences and compliances, among other statutory requirements, should be brought down and bottlenecks removed to augment the number of rooms for tourists in the country. The industry needs a unified system of compliance by incorporating and codifying the innumerable rules prevailing in various States to bring Ease of Doing Business for the sector.

Jaison Chacko, Secretary General, FHRAI
The hospitality sector is eagerly looking up to the Union Budget of 2023-24, as we have high hopes from the government to back the sector with some positive policy reforms. The upcoming budget will be pivotal to determining the path ahead for the hospitality business in the country. One of our long-standing requests has been granting infrastructure status to the industry. Currently, hotels built with an investment of `200 crore or more have been accorded infrastructure status under the RBI Infrastructure lending norm criteria. However, FHRAI has requested that this threshold be brought down to `10 crore to give a fillip to budget segment hotels. This will enable hotels to avail term loans at lower rates of interest and benefit of longer repayment tenure. It has also requested for hospitality to be classified as an industry.

HOTELS

Sunjae Sharma, Managing Director, India and Southwest Asia, Hyatt India Consultancy
Hyatt as a hotel group is focused on a multi-brand presence across leisure and business travel destinations, where guests are currently travelling or would like to travel. In 2022, we launched nine new properties in a single year for the first time in Hyatt’s history in India, and presently operate across 43 hotels and eight distinct Hyatt brands in

India and South-West Asia. We expect to accelerate this mindful growth in 2023 as well and we hope to do this by introducing new destinations and brands to meet the diverse hospitality needs of our guests. Our goal is to surpass the ambitious milestone of 50 Hyatt-branded properties in India by the end of 2023 and to establish a more diverse portfolio of hotel options in both existing and emerging markets.

Jose Ramapuram, Marketing Director, Evolve Back Resorts
Interestingly, 2022 saw most travellers look up luxurious accommodations that checked all boxes for wellness, adventure, and authentic yet immersive experiences. An uptick in demand for enlightening and culturally unique activities was also observed. Our coracle ride, historical treks and trails in Hampi, coffee plantation and worker’s trail in Coorg, and the safaris to discover the Indian biodiversity in Kabini; all piqued people’s interest this year. This also drove a lot of people to choose our properties for intimate weddings and honeymoon. We have noticed a shift in the industry over the last few years as demand for ethical and sustainable travel has increased. As we foresaw the environmental impact of our sector, the core of Evolve Back’s philosophy was implemented to preserve the ‘Spirit of the Land’, curate experiences around local culture and heritage.

JB Singh, President, and CEO, InterGlobe Hotels
The portfolio represents one of the most sizable financial commitments in the mid-market segment by an Indian business house and an international hotel brand. Apart from the 26 operational hotels in various Tier I & II cities, we have a solid pipeline of four under-construction hotels (600+ keys) today including 2 Ibis (Thane & Mumbai), 1 Ibis Styles in Goa and an upscale hotel in Bangalore. We plan to open Ibis Thane in 2022–23, followed by Ibis Styles in Goa in early 2023-24. Therefore, the next three years are important for us from an expansion point of view, with four new, very thoughtfully designed hotels with high-quality rooms, state-of-the-art meeting spaces and colourful public areas to open. Our focus has always been towards providing holistic customer experience.

Sudeep Jain, MD, SWA, IHG Hotels & Resorts
Building on the commitment, IHG has launched a 10-year action plan called ‘Journey to Tomorrow’ that aims to make a positive difference to our people, communities and the planet. In addition to metros and other established tourism destinations, Tier-II and Tier-III markets in India will gain significance as more travellers are exploring these cities. We are well placed to cater to demands arising from secondary markets and have a strong offering for this segment across with our leading brands. Staycations and weekend leisure travel demand will continue to rise as well. With hybrid working model, people will experiment with their work settings, and we will continue to offer a seamless and comfortable ‘workcation’ experience with customised packages. We currently have 45 hotels in South-West Asia across five core brands, out of which 41 hotels are in India.

Ajay Bakaya, MD, Sarovar Hotels & Resorts
We have another 45 active hotels in the pipeline and under construction. We are getting stronger in tier II, III, and IV cities. Smaller cities don’t have strong infra hotel structure. Our portfolio is spread across the country in a strategic manner – 40 per cent North India, 25 per cent in West and South and 10 per cent in East. We are growing stronger on Tulip brand – and working on consciously strengthening and developing these brands in India. Our focus will be on adding more rooms. I believe that RevPAR will surpass far ahead of 2019. I am extremely optimistic. Even if I look at my own company. We have a project going on in Chennai and you cannot resolve all the issues on video calls. For sure COVID has taught us not to travel without reason. But as business demands, one must travel. There is the pent-up demand for travel. After a lull of two years, it’s time for us to make some money.

Pratima Badhwar, Chief Commercial Officer, India & South Asia, Accor
2023 will be another strong year of growth and investment for Accor. We are excited to introduce new properties for our loyal guests. We are looking at everything quarter by quarter to stay aligned with changing guests’ preferences and economic scenarios while focusing on sustained positive business recovery. We continue to focus on domestic leisure travel, staycations and workcations and expect our properties that are geographically covering popular leisure destinations to cater to the diverse demand. Domestic tourism is expected to be the key growth driver, with international travel gaining momentum. As of October 2022, Accor operates 56 properties across India and South Asia, with more than 10,000 keys, alongside 25 properties (4000 Keys) in the pipeline.

Anant Kumar, Co-Founder, Brij Hotels
With borders now opening up extensively, we are anticipating an increase in inbound tourism. However, the looming recession could cause a slight delay in this! All in all, I expect a good demand this year as people are now opting for more immersive travel experiences and luxury stays.

We have some exciting plans coming up for the new year for our brand with several launches in line across various destinations in India. We recently launched Brij Gaj Kesri in Bikaner. Continuing with this expansion is our other interesting projects are underway – with Brij Bageecha coming up in Kukas and Brij Sonebagh in Bandhavgarh! In addition to this, we are also planning projects in Himachal Pradesh. We can’t wait for our guests to experience the Brij Hospitality there, connect them to the destination with its bespoke stay offerings and hyperlocal experiences that it offers.

Abinash Manghani, Chief Executive Officer, WelcomHeritage Hotels
We have three planned openings coming soon, WelcomHeritage Azora in Fort Kochi, WelcomHeritage Ayatana in Ooty and WelcomHeritage Parv Vilas Resort & Spa, Kasauli Hills in Solan. Our properties in Indore and Dungarpur are in the pipeline. We’re also looking at expanding our presence in East India. We plan to have 55 hotels by FY 2025-26 with 2000 keys in all. Whilst expanding our presence to include newer destinations in the hills, wilderness, cultural seats of the country as well as remote lands, we are consciously crafting destination experiences for authentic and fresh perspectives. WelcomHeritage is taking significant strides towards aligning with sustainable practices with initiatives like increasing use renewable energy through solar power and installing EV stations.

Dimitris Manikis, President Europe, Middle East, Eurasia and Africa (EMEA), Wyndham Hotel & Resorts
We are thrilled to expand our portfolio to make hotel travel possible for all by bringing more brands under the Wyndham umbrella into the market. We have several exciting developments in the pipeline that will further cement our presence in the region. We also continue to expand our corporate team in India to strengthen our support to our hotel partners and our overall growth strategy in the region. India is important to us not just because of the growth and adding new properties but also because of the talent, passion, and bright future we see in the young people within our industry. Specific trends that will continue to shape our industry next year and into the future include digital adoption and technology, sustainable hospitality, and the repositioning of the workforce. At Wyndham, we continue to invest in technology.

Rohit Katyal, National Sales Head, juSTa Hotels & Resorts
Though there are signs of global meltdown and India being consumption-based economy with some precautions we may be able to stay afloat and with domestic travellers’ strong desire for travel within India, it would help Indian hotels companies to sail-through. For juSTa Hotels & Resorts, as an organisation, we had touched bottom during COVID-19 period and are focused on making a difference in coming year. We will be strengthening our footprints in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand Region and Kerala too in 2023. We were able to strengthen our positioning in small luxury hotels & resort company in 2022. We have signed seven resorts in 2022 with approx. 250 keys and are bullish for 2023 too. Our intent is to add another seven to eight hotels in 2023 and increase Room inventory in existing hotels as planned.

Sarbendra Sarkar, Founder & MD, Cygnett Hotels & Resorts
I think that the industry is going to record overwhelming growth in the new year. The pent-up demand coupled with tremendous improvement in the pandemic situation means that the year 2023 is going to be a fruitful one for the hospitality and tourism sector. We have been able to expand our presence across the country with brands that cater to different market segments. All our properties have been able to reach demand levels of pre-pandemic time. We stepped up our expansion plans in 2022 with the opening of properties in markets like Jaipur and Dehradun. Going forward, we are well placed to achieve our target of 100 hotels in the next five years. We are
expecting 2023 to be a very good year for our expansion plans. We will be opening seven new hotels in 2023.

Manas Sinha, Director, ISA Tourism
In 2023, we expect that the macro deterrents (COVID, war, and rising inflation) go away, so that both outbound & inbound travel returns to the optimum level. We expect that airlines operate with adequate frequency and airfare gets rationalised. We expect that hospitality and tourism is able to generate more employment and attracts good talents to grow this industry. Our goal in 2023 is to sustain and grow new clientele and build new partnerships; develop new talents to shoulder growth responsibilities in hospitality and tourism; keep striving to create a system of better ROI and accountability by all stakeholders; encourage our clients to invest in meaningful marketing activities and grow the groups, MICE and wedding bookings to our portfolio hotels & resorts. We have hotel openings in Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam and we are keen to get Indian guests experience these new properties.

AGENTS

Rajeev Kale, President & Country Head, Holidays, MICE, Visa – Thomas Cook (India)
We are expecting strong demand for bucket-list destinations for Winter Travel like Iceland and Finland for activities like staying in an ice igloo, chasing the Northern Lights, reindeer sleigh rides, and a visit to the Santa Claus village. The pandemic altered the way customers plan their trips and their expectations and priorities have changed during the past two years, especially when it comes to the mode of travel and stay. Sustainable, responsible and regenerative travel will need to be prevalent. Consumers are also planning longer trips and showing interest in exploring offbeat destinations. The unique outdoor activities like hiking, snorkeling, and biking trips to destinations will continue to remain popular across families and friends and millennials.

Naveen Kundu, MD, EbixCash Travel & Holidays
Expectations will keep rising, and they must keep rising, because what we saw in 2021, has never happened during our lifetime and I hope it never happens again. However, we hope the visas for various countries resume properly, because right now, we are facing challenges on visas. They need to stabilise. With the challenges in place, our expectations are very high as far as 2023 is concerned. The government, on its part, must continue doing what they are doing. Government’s job is not a short-term job. They must continue to do things. I have been a voice from the private sector towards the government on a lot of things. With the G20 Presidency of India in 2023, there are a huge expectation. It’s a challenging time and G20 will test the tourism infrastructure and the tourism development of this country.

Daniel D’Souza, President & Country Head – Holidays, SOTC
At SOTC, we are witnessing an acceleration in our business and we are positive that the strong travel sentiment will see continuum in 2023. To encourage customers, we have already launched our portfolio of Europe Holidays for summer 2023 to favourite. Given the visa challenges in 2022, our intent is to help customers plan well in advance in order to avoid last minute disappointments. Additionally, to delight customers, we are offering an exciting inaugural offer: a complimentary 3-night luxury cruise experience across Barcelona, Savona and Marseille. New emerging destinations like Vietnam, Cambodia and Azerbaijan will continue to witness high uptick, in addition to easy and quick visa destinations remain preferred long and mid haul destinations. India continues to represent significant potential and my sense is we will see a 25% YoY growth.

Dev Karvat, Founder & CEO, Asego
With the recent proliferation in insurance awareness backed by the radical upward trajectory in terms of tech developments, I feel that 2023 will be a year of digitalisation, with travellers seeking relevant assistance and insurance services for their trips. Therefore, our focus this year will be to further strengthen our position as innovators in the travel protection domain and enhance our global assistance capabilities to boost confidence amongst travellers with crucial services such as doctor-on-call, family protection and 24×7 emergency medical assistance, In 2023, we aspire to lead product innovations beyond insurance with relevant assistance services that will help the travellers manage unforeseen distressful situations with ease. We are certain that our experience in the global market will be instrumental in achieving this for an emerging market like India. Moreover, we are constantly moving to upgrade technology.

Prabuddha Sen, COO-South Asia, VFS Global
For 2023, the number of diplomatic missions have released statements of intending to open the floodgates as far as India is concerned. So the serious capping issue that we saw last year with the visa appointments should be done away with to a great extent. That should take care of a lot of demand from India. We do see their seriousness because economically the impact that the geopolitical situation of the West has caused is also being a hindrance for many governments. We at VFS Global are completely geared up with everything, including physical infrastructure and people management to take on increased demand. While we are present in 18 locations we are further increasing our footprint in tier 2 and 3 cities to be able to reach people. We are also happy to do temporary enrolment location centres, pre-advertised on social media for a future dates so people can book dates accordingly.

Dr. Subhash Goyal, Chairman – STIC Travel & Air Charter Group
We are very confident that in the year 2023, aviation and tourism will grow significantly. The e-tourist visas will be re-introduced and more international flights will start, we were very confident of seeing business grow like the pre-COVID days. A lot will depend on opening the skies because if we want to achieve a target of 20 million inbound tourists, then we should have about 40-50 million seats on international flights available, coming in and out of India, because our outbound travel is also expected to be more than 25 million. We will be celebrating our 50th Anniversary in the month of September 2023 and have a lot of plans of celebrations throughout the year. As an organisation, we will be doing a lot of marketing and promotional events including bringing out a commemorative golden jubilee publication and a short film covering the milestone of our progress.

NTO

Sheetal Munshaw, Director, Atout France India
France has big sporting events slated for 2023 with the World Ski Championship and the Rugby World Cup. The time is just right for an optimal showcase of France’s touristic offering to the discerning sport fan and those who travel around mega sports events to partake in the same. We are also optimistic that a slew of cultural and artistic events that will take place through 2023 will give the Indian traveler enough reasons to plan a sojourn in France. It is likely that we may have similar inflow numbers closer to pre pandemic times and that people are likely to spend more time discovering France as a solo destination and opt for more offbeat destinations and experiences as we have already seen. We also reckon that sustainable ways of travel will organically form part of travel itineraries of the future.

Neliswa Nkani, Hub Head – MEISEA, South African Tourism
We are delighted to announce that we will be hosting our biggest travel trade initiative in India – the annual Roadshow across several Indian cities and the second edition of our experiential consumer activation in New Delhi. These trade and consumer activations will showcase the destination’s new and offerings in the run up to the 30-year anniversary of SA-India bilateral ties. Travelling to the Indian cities of Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Chennai, the tourism board will showcase their products and services. We anticipate a large number of footfalls from India as our travel trade partners are already seeing an upswing in enquiries for destination South Africa. In collaboration with our province partners, we are taking conscious efforts to promote sustainable and rural tourism, in an effort to give back to the local communities and economy.

GB Srithar, Regional Director (India, Middle East, South Asia & Africa), STB
We head into 2023 set on ramping up our pathways to tourism recovery, together with our Indian and Singapore partner-friends. The tourism industry is experiencing a strong resurgence in demand, with Indian consumers eager to travel again and try out new and exciting experiences. As a year-round tourist destination with exceptional culinary and diverse tourism experiences, Singapore will be among the top-of-mind destinations. Given our commitment to travel safety and unique, easy-to-enjoy offerings for both leisure and business travel, we expect to continue appealing to all segments of travellers. We have observed a few shifts in traveller priorities following the pandemic. Working with our industry partners, we have made strategic shifts, creating and curating new experiences to respond to these trends.

Shuja Bin Mehdi, B2B Manager – India, VisitBritain
There is a new government in place and VisitBritain is working with the government on presenting the plans for the next year. Once we get approvals on our budgets and our plans, we will be the first to share it with the travel trade in India and everyone else. Apart from that, we are participating in the Global Panorama Showcase, wherein we will be going to North and East India cities in the coming few months. We have already covered West and South India markets extensively through GPS as well as our own roadshows in 2022. We hope that we have done a true and fair job in telling and informing the travel trade in india about how to sell the UK well, how to package it appropriately and how to seamlessly work with the local UK industry in order to promote the destination well. We will definately continue with this momentum into the new year as well.

Pranav Kapadia, Founder & Director, Global Destinations
The colossal surge in travel seen in the last quarter are clear indicators that travel will continue to grow and outstretch beyond the ambit of pre-covid 19 levels, in 2023. The predictions for the outbound travel from India are extremely healthy and exciting for the global tourism industry. Travel businesses around the world are looking to capitalize on India’s outbound market. All eyes remain fixed on India as the country’s outbound tourism sector seems to be the solution that destinations overseas need to recover from the impact of Covid-19. With all barometers pointing in the positive direction, we too are very optimistic for an efficacious, successful and profitable 2023. The year 2023 is already looking very promising. We currently have a lot happening behind the scenes, as we prepare to embrace the new year with charged energies and positive enthusiasm.

CRUISE

Vasundhara Gupta, Business Development and Marketing Head, Lotus Aero Enterprises (GSA for Costa Cruises)
Travel is going to be a top priority for Indians and our expectations for Costa Cruises to have the biggest numbers yet from the Indian market. We plan to have sailings closer to home – India, Dubai, along with short and long itineraries from Europe, offering a variety of options which can best suit the needs of the Indian client. Along with this we plan to focus on few ships of Costa, to be dedicated to the India market by offering great Indian cuisine and on-board customised Indian experience. We were able to operate some large corporate movements on our Europe itineraries, which went off successfully thanks to the support at all levels, starting with visas from the Italy consulate, strong travel partner and the customer-friendly crew.

Manoj Singh, Country Head- India at Norwegian Cruise Line
We are very optimistic about cruise travel in 2023. India is a very important market for NCL. As part of our ‘Partners First’ philosophy, we’re doubling down on our investment in travel trade in India, developing tools and resources that will help travel partners maximise their selling potential. We’re continuing to invest in our consumer marketing in India to help inspire travellers to contact their travel agents to start planning a future cruise. We’re doing this by promoting our breadth of destinations offered and range of itineraries included aboard our 18 innovative ships — including our game-changing brand-new ship, Norwegian Prima. We are also counting down to the debut of Norwegian Viva next year, the second ship in our Prima Class fleet.

TECHNOLOGY


Sandeep Dwivedi, COO, InterGlobe Technology Quotient
I am quite optimistic, to see the previously mentioned 65 per cent figure transform into a stunning 100 in terms of travel regaining its foothold across the world and hopeful that the Ukraine crisis will settle and peace at global level will revive tourism. A rise in domestic travel is anticipated, as almost all offices have opened and people are flying to their hometowns more often. We expect travel to be at the peak of renewal next year and international traffic to pick up pace at around 120 per cent of the pre-COVID levels. The travellers of today are much more aware and know what they want. Our travel subscribers are aware of all these requirements. We plan to continue assisting them in assuring the best experiences possible for their customers.

Chirag Gupta, Founder & CEO, Deyor
The biggest challenge for the travel industry is to keep up with technology now that it is back on its feet and that there has been a greater uptake of online services during the Covid phase. Many Indian travel companies transformed themselves into travel technology startups during the 2020–2021 phase when the entire industry came to a standstill. Many businesses like Deyor made investments in technology at that time, as well as in solidifying their connections with suppliers, hotel chains, and other industry participants. These investments have paid off, and businesses are now reaping the rewards. The majority of the nations now relies on online services. Additionally, deep tech that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to build customer experiences and itineraries will have to be adopted.

Check Also

Odisha’s big thrust on sports

Odisha and Hockey India are now set to host the Hockey World Cup for the …