The first Educational Destination Workshop-International (EDWIN) by Global Panorama Showcase (GPS) concluded recently in Ladakh. Harmandeep Singh Anand, Managing Director, GPS, shares how the first instalment of the workshop went and what are the key takeaways from it.
Priti Khanna from Ladakh
Q How and when was EDWIN conceived?
EDWIN by GPS was conceived as early as 2009 when it was still a part of Jagsons Travels. At that time, we started taking travel agents associated with us on educational trips so as to give them a first-hand experience of the destination. These were small groups of about 10-12 agents. It was then we realised that pan India there are many such travel professionals who need hand-holding and destination education, enabling them to be a better professional seller of a destination to their clients.
Q How different is EDWIN from other Fam trips?
In addition to familiarising the agents with the destination, it also gives an opportunity to the local trade to get exposed to the agents from the Tier II and III cities PAN India, where the products and services from a particular region may not have access to even though they may visit India for their product promotions. EDWIN includes a day of B2B interaction in addition to various hotel inspections, product orientation and experience by the participating attendees, who are referred as EDWIN’S.
Q What was the response to the first EDWIN held in Ladakh?
Within 24 hours of opening the registration for EDWIN – Ladakh, we received close to 200 registrations. It had an overwhelming response of 800 per cent as we had limited space for about 50 attendees only for the first edition of EDWIN to Ladakh.
Q Any reason to have chosen Ladakh for the first EDWIN?
Yes. Being in India, we felt that it would be ideal to start off EDWIN from our home country itself. This is probably one of the most secluded and less explored destinations, but one of the most desirable ones in the world. Our partners in Ladakh—Tundup Dorjey from Overland Escape and Kamlesh Lalan from Ravine Trek, were very keen to get such a large attendance from various parts of India into Ladakh.
Q Both GPS and EDWIN target tour operators and DMCs in Tier II and Tier III cities. Do you find this sector more responsive and committed?
The purpose of GPS is to educate and empower the travel fraternity particularly from the Tier II and III cities and EDWIN in due course will create a level playing field for these professionals. Though the target is agents from Tier II and III cities, but we also take on board serious professionals from the metro cities exceptionally. The main intent is to qualify agents who have attended our GPS events.
Q What are your future plans and vision regarding EDWIN?
We plan to have at least six EDWIN destinations in a year, and are working closely with various entities, destinations and agents alike. The intent of EDWIN is to bring the travel fraternity of professionals closer and remove the territorial boundaries.
Q What are the key takeaways from the first EDWIN?
EDWIN participants have gathered a lot of knowledge about destination Ladakh and some existing myths have been cleared by being there in person. All attendees of EDWIN-Ladakh are now better equipped to sell the destination to their clientele, thereby not only selling a package to the client but rather a complete experience with a whole lot of information on do’s and don’ts, as well as the precautions as Ladakh is not like any of our other destinations and needs special guidance and planning.
Q How do you think EDWIN will benefit tourism to Ladakh or any future destination you choose?
thereby retaining the serenity of the region. We also informed and educated agents on promoting Ladakh as a winter destination in addition to the current summer months, which lasts for only about five months in a year.
Q What were the major highlights of EDWIN-Ladakh?
We had CA Manish Gadia (GMJ & Co.) with us on this trip who interacted with the attendees on GST matters. We also did a session with the travel industry leaders, with regards to GST and its implications to the region of Ladakh as prior to July 8, 2017, there were no taxes applicable to the region. We were very well received by the people at large in Ladakh, as also the industry leaders of various organisations were present to interact with our attendees. We plan to do a larger EDWIN in Ladakh in April 2018 in association with the complete travel trade of the region In the current edition, we had participants from about 18 states and 35 cities across India who quali- fied as Educational Destination Workshop International Specialist (LADAKH).