Tour operators driving force

The 37th IATO Convention underlines the role of tour operators and travel agents. They are the people who assist and coordinate with the Ministry to promote tourism and on whom the industry’s success dependent, says experts.

Janice Alyosius

Tour operators are responsible for moving the travel and tourism industry. Addressing the participants at the IATO Convention, SanJeet, Director, DDP Group, said, “Since we are sitting in the tour operators’ convention, all the tour operators are here, so we are going to look what lies ahead from the tour operators’ point of view.” He praised the tour operators for making a huge monetary contribution to the country’s kitty.

Rakesh Kumar Verma, Additional Secretary, Tourism, Government of India, said that tour operators are the most important component of the tourism value chain. “They interact with customers and markets, and their role will only grow in the aftermath of the pandemic. There are structural and pattern changes that will emerge and stabilise the tourism sector. As a result, the tour industry will be the first to feel and be impacted by these changes. The way forward will most likely be to work closely with the tour operators and travel agents and the states to figure out what those changes are and how we can respond to those changes to ensure that inbound increases and we get back to pre-covid levels as early as possible,” he said.

Emphasizing on the development taking place in Uttar Pradesh, Mukesh Kumar Meshram, Principal Secretary and DG Tourism, Government of Uttar Pradesh, said that the state is emerging as a significant tourist market, with numerous destinations to showcase. The government is working on development and has identified 5,000 destinations in the state, of which 750 have already begun to develop infrastructure. “We have completed a lot of infrastructure in all of these tourist destinations in the last 5-6 years. So, we are ready, and I would like to request the tour operators and travel agents to guide us through your needs. I would also suggest that you make tailor made packages to the needs of the inbound tourists and share it with us, and whatever your suggestions are, we are ready to provide them. We are willing to organise familiarisation trips for you to visit all of these locations, prepare yourself, and then sell it forward,” he said.

Sheo Shekhar Shukla, Principal Secretary, Tourism, and MD, MP Tourism Board, said the MP government is working consciously toward a well chartered roadmap that is multipronged and multifaceted. “The first and foremost, we must comprehend the international market, its needs, and priorities, particularly in light of the pandemic’s paradigm shift. People are now looking for different types of products, experiences, and itineraries, so we need to figure that out depending on the source country,” he said.

Abhay Sinha, Director General, Service Export Promotion Council (SEPC), said, “There are some procedural issues that we are attempting to synchronise, build a better synergy, and we are actually the platform where we would like India to be seen as one. With all the state efforts, bringing perceptual changes in the minds of tourists, who will have India on their mental map. So, here SEPC plays a significant role and we are planning a number of events and activities with the support of the Ministry of Tourism.”

Sachin R Jadhav, Director, Tourism, Government of Odisha, said, “The budget allocation for the state of Odisha for tourism in 2018 was `80 crore. 2022-23, I have just completed that exercise for the proposed budget for next year 2023-2024. The budget outlay we have given is ‘600 crores.”

Rajiv Mehra, President, IATO, while emphasizing on international marketing said, “We are still getting up, recovering from the pandemic. Although most of the hotels have already come out of the pandemic, but we have not. Inbound is still around 20-25 per cent, accounting for roughly one-third of what we did in 2019-2020. The most important thing right now is overseas promotion, which is completely absent. So, the first requirement from us is international marketing, followed by international roadshows.”





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