The heart of India ‘Madhya Pradesh’ invited the Association of Domestic Tour Operators, in the land of temples Khajuraho to host their 7th Annual Convention, which was organised amidst the presence of key players of domestic tourism. The theme of this year’s convention aimed and revolved around ‘Domestic Tourism: Billion+ Opportunities’. Innumerable topics and issues were discussed during the two day convention, now what is awaited, is the plan of action. A report.
What would have been a better place than Madhya Pradesh to organise a convention of Domestic Tour Operators, the people who actually knows India by heart and project them to the world, influence the world to come and witness the grandeur of the country. The 7th ADTOI Annual Convention-cum-Exhibition was organised from April 9-10, 2016 at Hotel Ramada, Khajuraho, MP.
The first day of the convention took off on a very high note in the august presence of Shri Nagendra Singh, Member Parliament, Khajuraho as the Guest of Honour; Shri Vinod Zutshi, Secretary Tourism, Govt of India; Dr Venu V, IAS, Secretary, Govt of Kerala; Smt Kavita Singh, President, Nagar Panchayat; Tanvi Sundriyal, Addl MD, Madhya Pradesh State Tourism; Jyoti Kapur, President ADTOI; Sanjay Agarwal, VP & Convention Chairman; Anurag Agarwal, General Secretary, ADTOI; Subhash Verma, Immediate Past President & Convention Co-chairman. According to Hindu mythology, any auspicious ceremony is commenced with a Ganesh Vandana and thus following the ritual, the convention was inaugurated with the lighting of the lamp followed by Ganesh Vandana.
India has a wide range to offer from the Himalayas to the back waters of Kerala. The modern India needs to be experienced and explained for a better visibility. Through this convention ADTOI is taking a step forward to promote domestic tourism in the country. Why MP as a host state? Madhya Pradesh today is a leading state and is working hand in hand with ADTOI. While addressing the gathering, Shri Nagendra Singh said, “I am happy that ADTOI decided to host their convention in Khajuraho. Our Honourable Chief Minister Shri Shivaraj Singh Chauhan is very much keen on promoting tourism in the state. There is lot of opportunities in tourism sector, it not only helps in generating employment but also contributes in the development of the country. I would not go in numbers that how many people visit India every year but would rather focus on the small countries which have developed themselves and are receiving healthy number of travellers.” Tourism is one such sector which deals with many issues, few of them are connectivity, roads, and airport connections. There is a need to emphasis on building good hotels, security, cleanliness and improve mobile connectivity as well.
Adding on, Dr Venu V in his address mentioned that the association is doing pretty well. I have watched Madhya Pradesh very carefully and they have placed their future very firmly and marketed themselves for a brighter tomorrow. He further said, “We are talking about the biggest, but it’s time to harness the domestic tourism. If you think of future, then it lies in hotel bookings, if you have knowledge you will remain in the business and ADTOI is the right forum.”
Shri Vinod Zutshi congratulated the team ADTOI for their 7th Annual Convention and for hosting it in the temple town Khajuraho as it will boost the local tourism. He further in his address highlighted the initiatives which the Ministry of Tourism is taking and laid emphasis on the regional connectivity which in order will increase the traffic in the states. Apart from this, he also stressed on the 24X7 helpline recently launched by MoT, Swach Mobile application, etc. Ministry is going to play a major role in the promotion of domestic tourism and the Ministry is working towards creating a seamless connectivity, online payments, online license, etc.
The first session of the day was focused on ‘Domestic Tourism: Managing the next billion’. There is a major change in the thought process these days. Festivals such as Japan Literature Festival have been able to act as a major catalyst to attract tourists to the destination. We need to change as per time and create euphoria which proceeds to be a major attraction. The country is huge and each destination is unique, there is a need to enhance experiences and create experiences as well. During the session, it was also discussed that the need of the hour is to ‘create ideas and what extra edge can be provided’. Travelling now has changed, as it was five-six years back, niche tourism products are really doing wonders. One of the speakers also mentioned that all of us need to work collectively and together, whenever dealing with clients an extra edge needs to be provided. And minutest of the things should be taken care of in order to travel smooth. Well, the other speaker emphasised that wedding today is another major key player and it’s huge. Weddings will always give opportunity, so there is a need to build the market in order to promote destination wedding. Through this session, the gathering was enlightened on how to manage business; management is all about what we have today. We need to constantly innovate and keep allocating resources so that the old and new business thrives together. There is a need to specialise by market or by products or by services.
On the other hand, it was also discussed that unlocking the potential is also very important, such as forts and palaces can be converted into heritage hotels. Conservation and restoration is equally important. Another key elements are unlocking the market, think of new ideas, issues needs to be discussed together, capacity building in the hospitality sector. Think literally and then create a product.
The second session was on ‘ETP (Ethical Tourism Policy)’, an issue of price war. Online travel portals which are armed with large foreign funding are squeezing hoteliers for lowest possible rate and have brought almost a monopolistic situation. Many tour operators have to shut shop and many are on the verge of closure because tour operators are not able to compete with the heavy discounting by portals. The session was actually a debate between the operators and hoteliers.
The third and the last session focused on ‘Strategy Startups-The future of Domestic Tour Operator’. Today everyone is going online and travel has become special, personalised and experiential. Transparency is missing in the sector. The tour operators should realise that they are not selling deals, they infact are selling dreams. There is a need to create product or a story around it, which gives an insight of the place and helps attract travellers. The day ended on a very high note and exchange of knowledge.
What appealed me most on the second day was the topic ‘Desh Dekho Desh Khojo’, which actually sounded quiet interesting. I would rather have thought of flipping the words and would not mind making it Desh Khojo Desh Dekho. But the idea behind this was to listen to the stories of the eminent travellers who have actually travelled and have been able to find out those small little interesting things which can be sold in the market and would rather attract visitors. India is a huge country, no doubt in it, but can we imagine this huge country apart from forts, palaces, sanctuaries and other tourism products. It also has many such interesting aspects which if projected in the international or domestic forum will make a huge impact. So whenever you are on roads try seeing your own country from a different perspective and then offer it to the world.
Some conventions are only discussion based, some are a knowledge sharing process but the 7th ADTOI Convention was mix of fun, networking and dialogue sharing. On one hand the city of temple in the heart of India, on the other some really good speakers, one could hardly find such combination where work becomes fun.