The World Tourism Day that just went by, had both travellers and people from the industry come together and dole out amazing insights and also share their experiences. This encouraged us to put the spotlight on travel. Beginning today, watch out for this space for travel trade and destination stories from a different angle of view.
For starters, we thought of highlighting some strategic findings. At the second edition of tourism and hospitality buyer-seller meet, the ‘India Tourism Mart 2019’, Union Minister, Nitin Gadkari, was quoted saying that the tourism sector has huge employment potential, and that it is a significant agenda for the government. He also acknowledged that the tourism ministry can show great results given its commitment to promote tourism and travel in the country.
Another remarkable discovery, according to a recent data by Directorate General of Civil Aviation, (DGCA), was that the passengers carried by domestic airlines during Jan-Aug 2019 were 943.58 lakhs as against 913.95 lakhs during the consequent period of previous year in a way registering an annual growth of 3.24% and monthly growth of 3.87%.
Correspondingly, another report suggested that the hotel stocks had risen by 20% post the GST rate cut. Apparently, shares of hotel companies rocketed up to 20% after the GST Council reduced the tax rate for hotel room tariffs. Furthermore, many countries recorded a higher influx of Indians into their countries and vice-versa, further reiterating the fact that the tourism sector is slated for an upswing. We had some industry experts share their opinions and experiences on these developments and other topics, they being part of this dynamic industry that literally touches people’s lives in more ways than one.
First, we spoke to Jyoti Mayal, Director of New Airways Travels (Delhi) Pvt Ltd and this is what she had to say. “Tourism is the backbone of every country and we with our rich heritage and culture must utilise and encash our strengths. I not only personally but also as the Hon. Secretary General of the largest Travel and Tourism Association believe we could increase tourism for both international and domestic markets and thus create a huge economic impact on the growth of the industry by not only from foreign exchange earnings but also by creating much more employment and infrastructure,” she explained.
On the news report, the Managing Director of Travelite (India), a Destination Management Company, Sarab Jit Singh had his notions to share on the industry. “No doubt, it is absolutely true and we are hearing such statements from various ministers to prime ministers over the last 30 years, but the fact is that potential is still a potential. Despite, Mr Modi’s personal reference to tourism on several occasions, hardly anything has changed on the ground. No doubt, tourism sector can play a key role in reviving the national economy and creating millions of jobs, provided we work collectively and cohesively to achieve this. To get different results, we definitely need to change and try different ways otherwise we will end up with the same old result and the sorry state of affairs,” he exclaimed. Singh is a veteran and got into the travel trade industry decades back. “We started as tourist transport operators in 1943 and ventured into tourism business in 1970s for the expansion of our business,” shared Singh.
Talking about the travel industry, personal experiences too play their part in shaping trends. Quite obviously, since Singh gets to travel a lot, we asked him about his perception on travel trends? “There are various destinations which one would like to visit around the world. It actually depends on personal choice and likings. During the past few years, we have witnessed a drastic shift in the tourist outlook, now they are more interested in experiences rather than visiting monuments,” he elaborated.
Similarly talking about the spirit of travel as an industry, Mayal who joined her husband in his business post their marriage had insightful notions to tell. “Travel and tourism is a very exciting business. In this business, you not only see the world and explore new destinations, but you actually promote beautiful destinations to your client. It is like fulfilling your dreams through other people’s travel. I am very passionate about travelling and promoting travel,” admitted she. Mayal had another point to make, “We as Indians still have a lot to learn about promoting travel within and to India. We need to focus on specific travel with the right marketing. Experiential travelling is the future and thus marketing needs to be based on the same.”
Being a part of the industry, bestows Mayal with the opportunity to visit places innumerable times. “Internationally, it’s London, Amsterdam and Las Vegas. These places are fun and have so much to offer for entertainment – theatre, shows, casinos, places to see, and top of all great cuisine from all over the world. On the other hand, Scotland is perfect for heritage and culture and France for visiting the vineyards and local food tasting,” she cited examples. Back home, apart from Goa for fun and Kerala backwaters for its pristine surroundings, she loves visiting The Golden Temple because of its serenity and beauty.
Her profound faith in the Sikh religion and its sacred places was further evident. “Belonging to a Sikh family, I feel we need to be more passionate about our religion and promote the ‘Sikh Circuit’’. A circuit which would cover the five ‘Takhts’ and so many other prominent historical Gurudwaras in India and outside. We need to promote all our ten Guru’s journeys and specifically places that have touched their lives. Our history is the most recent, but we still have not been able to put it in the right limelight. Teachings of Sikhism are those which the world can relate to. The religion is moderate and the fundamental beliefs of Sikhism articulated in the sacred scripture, Guru Granth Sahib include faith and meditation on the name of the one creator, divine unity and equality of all humankind, engaging in selfless service striving for justice for the benefit and prosperity of all, and honest conduct and livelihood while living a householder’s life. Our teachings are simple and pure,” summarised Mayal.
Talking about gurudwaras, Singh too disclosed his thoughts on the ‘The Sikh Circuit’. “It is definitely generating a lot of interest among Sikhs as well as few other enthusiasts. Most of the visits to the Sikh Circuit are privately arranged. We have several tours available which are published on our websites as well,” explained he.
Additionally, he also touched upon the commercial impact it can have over the next decade. According to Singh, the economic impact of religious tourism over the next decade can be anywhere between 100 % to 400 % growth in India, depending upon the government’s approach and its policies. The fascination towards the Sikh Circuits is substantially high that will continue to increase over the next decade. Lately, a rising trend among Sikhs to visit the places visited by Guru Nanak Dev Ji outside India as well has also been noticed. So far, it was restricted to historic and religious sites in Pakistan. Now many Sikhs are exploring other countries as well. This will also definitely help in restoring and renovating Gurudwaras and historical places or sites of significance,” concluded Singh. And we do second that!
(Watch out for a detailed travelogue on the Sikh Circuit to understand its significance and how to travel in detail).