The convention-cum-exhibition witnessed a huge turnout including delegates from Gujarat Tourism, Air India, Ministry of Tourism and hotel industry. ADTOI President P.P. Khanna in a heartfelt speech urged the association members to join hands and form a consortium for commercial gains and also spoke about scrapping of GST for travel agents promoting Indian destinations
With significant increase in tourist inflow as well as volume of spending in the domestic tourism sector in India, the ninth edition of ADTOI’s convention-cum-exhibition leveraged it and the timing could not have been more perfect as recently Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged the citizens to explore at least 15 tourist destinations within India by 2022 which impeccably set the tone of the convention concurring with the convention’s theme Explore India-Experience India. The inauguration ceremony began with a Ganesh Vandana followed by a glitzy launch of the new logo of ADTOI, where the tri-colour logo exudes patriotism and nationalism. It aims at encouraging the ADTOI members for boosting domestic tourism bringing in more revenue and GDP for the country.
There was an elaborative and interesting presentation by Gujarat Tourism. Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani through a video message welcomed the delegates at the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel. He spoke about Navratri Festival, Asiatic Lions of Gir Forest, Rann Mahotsav, heritage sites Patan and Champaner and the World Heritage City Ahmedabad. “Gujarat is renowned across India for its ancient history as well as picturesque scenery. Our government has achieved great success in promoting Gujarat’s tourist offerings to international travellers. The world’s tallest statue is in Gujarat. Under the tourism policies of 2015 the Gujarat government is making strenuous efforts to boost tourism in the state. Gujarat has welcomed over 5.5 cr tourists and gauging the increase in influx of visitors we are working on further improving the services and amenities,” he conveyed Rupani also emphasised the various offerings in Gujarat paying tribute to Mahatma Gandhi and requested the delegates for their support to take Gujarat Tourism to new heights and wished ADTOI convention great success.
Chetan Gupta, General Secretary, ADTOI, gave opening remarks, talking about all that the ‘Land of Lions and Legends’ has to offer in terms of the vast tourism potential it has and how people of the state are not just business minded but also extremely hospitable and welcoming. Following him, Khanna began his speech by welcoming the delegates with a heartening smile to the first World Heritage City of India, Ahmedabad. “Gujarat is among the top 10 popular Indian states for domestic tourism. Statue of Unity has drawn a huge number of visitors in a short span of time, which is praiseworthy. He gave credit to the state’s safety, security, cleanliness and connectivity, are very much present across Gujarat. The state has experienced infrastructural growth and witnessed a boost in air connectivity owing to the UDAN Scheme. We are hopeful that in another few years it will have great overall connectivity.” Furthermore, addressing the dignitaries he urged to enhance inter-state connectivity, especially the key tourist attractions and entreated to increase the MICE and weddings venues in the state. Khanna also stressed upon the issue plaguing the small and medium-sized travel agents that is high GST and suggested its scrapping for travel agents who are promoting domestic tourism. He also made a point while mentioning that people of India should spend their money on travel, weddings or MICE in India instead of going abroad for the same. He amongst other dignitaries, quoted PM Narendra Modi asking the citizens to visit at least 15 destinations in India by 2022 during his latest speech which in turn will lead to prosperity of domestic tourism.
Next in line, S.J. Haider, Principal Secretary, Gujarat Tourism, began his speech by reiterating that Gujarat has traditionally been a land of business and industries but is far beyond that. The state has emerged as a popular tourist attraction in the past 1.5 years. Gujarat has been blessed with myriad tourist attractions be it beaches, hill stations, spiritual sites, UNESCO World Heritage sites, white salt desert, biodiversity and more. He also spoke about Gandhi Kutir Museum at Dandi where a tourist footfall of around 3,000 to 4,000 can be witnessed on a daily basis. Haider highlighted, “Domestic tourism has untapped potential and we ourselves are yet to explore and discover India. We ought to be doing it for our own sake and for the sake of the prosperity of India. If we travel across India it reinforces a sense of belongingness and pride, which is essential. Gujarat has given many things to the country – from our PM to renowned religious sites and world-class monuments. We are attracting close to 10,000 tourists per day to the iconic Statue of Unity. We are pursuing tourism for the sake of promoting nationalism, spiritualism, giving an incentive for livelihood opportunities so on and so forth. Several socio-economic activities are taking place as well, so our aim is not only to boost tourism but also reinforce the state’s economy,” he said.
Ashima Mehrotra, Director, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India went through some key points discussing some of the major factors contributing to the rapid growth of tourism besides talking about how the theme of the ADTOI convention coincides well with the government’s agenda to boost domestic tourism. The length between community building and tourism scenario will definitely play a major role in bringing equity and sustainability. She elucidated on the numerous schemes that MoT is undertaking to boost all-inclusive development in lesser-known areas. “Ministry of Tourism is working earnestly on increasing and facilitating tourism in India along with other central ministries and state governments together with tourism industry as it has to be a collaborative effort. Over 200 cr has been sanctioned only for Gujarat which includes heritage circuit, Gandhi circuit, Buddhist circuit as well as tourism amenities in Dwarka and Somnath. Augmenting tourism infrastructure and generating authentic information on various tourist places are some of the focus areas. Assurance of quality standards and services of tourism service providers and tourist insurance exploring various parts of the country is one of our key objectives and are of utmost importance to the Ministry of Tourism. We are working on holistic development of tourist destinations and Somnath and Dholavira in Gujarat are part of it. MoT had suggested few routes to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, to help increase the influx of domestic tourists, among which eight routes are already operational.” She also informed that MoT’s website has been revamped and is more interactive and user-friendly than ever before.
Speaking at the inaugural session, Ashwani Lohani, CMD, Air India said, “Tourism has always been a prospering segment which will continue so our work is to facilitate its growth. This field has multiplier impact on the private sector and economy. There is a need to encourage people to explore neighboring tourist places and travel more.” He added that if the interregional and intra-regional travel is boosted in the right manner it can have a huge impact on domestic tourism’s growth. New tourism destinations should be identified and their infrastructure should be developed such as sanitation, need of proper signages as well as the services among other aspects. “PM Modi has laid strong emphasis on boosting domestic tourism and has urged people to see minimum five new destinations every year. Air India will support his vision and would ardently work towards making it a reality. To facilitate it, we have prepared special family packages to offer the citizens best deal,” he emphasised.
Vasan Ahir, Minister of State for Tourism, Government of Gujarat gave impetus on various offerings of Gujarat while touching upon how strengthening tourism will in turn lead to an increase in job opportunities and economic growth. “In the past few years, many small villages of Gujarat have thrived immensely due to tourism. I believe that people can explore Gujarat for a month and visit new places without repetition and experience unique facets of the state, owing to the vast potential of its tourism offerings.” Pradipsinh Jadeja, Minister of State – Home (Gujarat), welcomed delegates to the land of Gandhi, Patel and PM Modi. He spoke what the PM has given to the state of Gujarat including development of water front along river Sabarmati. He further pointed out the various tourist attractions of Gujarat and explained how the PM, when he was the CM of Gujarat, was concerned about the state’s development and came up with various possibilities to leverage it. The Convention Manual 2019 also was launched by Khanna and Gupta in the presence of Ahir, Jadeja, Jenu Devan, S.J. Haider, Ashwani Lohani and Ashima Mehrotra.
The second day of ADTOI convention kick-started with a presentation on MoT organising ‘Partyatan Parv’ with the sole aim of asking people to see their own country first instead of travelling overseas for holidays. It was also informed that they are developing iconic sites, getting in world-class visitor experience to the country and are working on adopt a heritage scheme.
The most awaited session of the day was on ‘how can states enhance domestic tourism through PPP model’. Its aim was to collectively brainstorm ideas to enhance the engagement between public and private sector so as to create top-notch infrastructure that will in turn enable Indians to travel more within the country. Vinod Zutshi, Former Secretary, Ministry of Tourism moderated the session by highlighting PM’s vision of increasing domestic tourism by requesting the people to visit 15 destinations by 2022. Jenu Devan, MD and Commissioner of Tourism, Gujarat informed the delegates about the several examples of collaboration with the private sector in Gujarat. Zutshi also mentioned that although the government has been boosting domestic tourism via various and initiatives and schemes such as Swadesh Darshan, PRASAD and UDAN, to mend the gap between demand and supply in infrastructure, human resource shortage and more, even so the country requires more thorough and closer engagement between government and the private sector.
Himmat Anand, Managing Director, Tree of Life Hotels and Resorts made a relevant point when he said that suitable policies should be formulated by the state governments so as to actively engage small and medium-level investors, which is not the case in current scenario. He pointed out certain discrepancies in the PPP model that doesn’t consider SMEs sector and investors a part of it. Anand brought in a new perspective and angle into the discussion via how this publicprivate partnership model should firstly be beneficial as well as feasible for the private stakeholders to invite them to capitalise in the venture. Madhya Pradesh is among the first states that strikes our mind when we recall the Indian states that have implemented the PPP model effectively. Representing it was Yuvraj Padole, Deputy Director of MP Tourism who said that some of the key elements are infrastructural development, land bank as well as all-inclusive growth of tourism in the state. “We are planning to invite travel agents, tour operators and domestic operators to explore the sites and facilities that we have created and are looking at their small investments, which will also ensure that they will promote the destination,” he said.
It was followed by presentations by Hyatt Regency and MP Tourism, highlighting their focused areas and future plans. “We are actively working on responsible tourism and have even initiated the drive to become a no-plastic state. Our focus is turning MP into a year-roud tourist destination. Monsoon Marathon, adventure, heritage, film tourism, Panchmarhi and ample investment options are in the process of further development to increase the influx of tourists to our state. Besides this we are also focusing on promoting the lesser-known destinations via heritage trail,” said Padole. He spoke about ADTOI opening an MP chapter quite soon and also urged the travel trade association to host their next convention in Madhya Pradesh.
‘Power of Networking’ was another remarkable and infomative session where the various ADTOI chapter chairmen discussed how by working together and helping one another can lead to domestic tourism’s evolution and prospertiy. This session was moderated by Ashish Gupta, CEO, FAITH. Gupta and Bimal Mehta, ChairmanGujarat Chapter, Arjit Purkayastha, Chairman-North East Chapter, Debjit Dutta, Chairman-West Bengal Chapter among others addressed that the issues faced by travel agents is also because they are not selling the destination in a right manner. ADTOI currently has 10 chapters spread across India. With growing number of members and expanding their reach to new states, ADTOI will further flourish in future. There was also a session on strategy of state specialist programme for sellers with Arun Verma, Founder Member and Advisor of ADTOI, President Khanna, Jenu Devan, ChairmanKerala Chapeter Johny Abrahim and Himmat Anand.
The convention commenced with high spirits as President Khanna thanked the delegates, EC members, Chapter Chairmen, ADTOI Gujarat Chapter members, Gujarat Government and media for an overwhelming support. “I am glad that ADTOI members from various parts of the country including Jammu & Kashmir, West Bengal, Maharashtra, MP, Punjab, Haryana, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Manipur and Assam are here with us. We, ADTOI members should work together as a consortium, which is also the need of the hour, to promote domestic tourism.” He also opined that this way they would be able to overcome the challenges that may come their way. It was indeed a grand show which would not have been possible without the prolonged efforts of ADTOI team.
The exhibition area included stalls of MP Tourism, Gujarat Tourism, TBO Group, Arabian Nights Tours, Pinks Travels, Landscape Safari Tours & Travels, Citius Holidays and Assam Holidays among others. The 9th ADTOI Convention cum-Exhibition was a successful and amongst the well-attended events of the travel trade. It gave a much-needed spur to domestic tourism with a promise of accelerated growth.
Himmat Anand, Founder and CEO, Tree of Life Resorts & Hotels
This is my first convention and given the importance of domestic tourism, it’s crucial to attend such conventions as inbound tourism is slowly levelling out. Weddings and domestic tourism are going to drive the industry forward. According to me, the technical sessions could have been longer and the topics could have been a little more elaborated. Every convention has its challenges which the ADTOI team faced here as well.
K Biswas, Manager Marketing, Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited
I am elated on inviting ADTOI to Gujarat for hosting their convention. It’s an incredible opportunity to witness a huge turnout of travel agents and tour operators from across the country who converge and discuss the way forward for domestic tourism. In future as well, we would be welcoming more of such travel trade associations to host their conventions in the state of Gujarat which also allows the tourism industry to come and witness what this state has to offer. My best wishes are with ADTOI for their future conventions.
Rajesh Arya, Vice President, ADTOI
ADTOI convention is a great platform for networking where members from PAN India gather under an umbrella to discuss the trends and challenges of domestic tourism. We have achieved exceptional participation this year. Gladly, some of the major state tourism boards came forward to support us via participation and their valued presence.
Ekta Watts, EC Member, ADTOI
The convention was a grand success. We were expecting a footfall of over 400 delegates and were able to surpass it. The networking with ADTOI members and guests was phenomenal. The sessions were invigorating and quite fruitful and had great attendance. After PM Modi’s speech about boosting domestic tourism, we are pepped up and look forward to a fruitful year ahead. The post-convention FAM tours organized by the association are indeed aimed at enhancing tourism in the state.
Bimal Mehta, Chairman-Gujarat Chapter, ADTOI
We have put in our best efforts in terms of arrangements and hosting the delegates. Conventions like this will pave a way for promotion of Gujarat in a humongous way owing to the insightful panel discussions and I am sure that the post-convention FAM tours have further enhanced the knowledge of the travel agents and tour operators from various Indian states about Gujarat as a tourist destination. They will be more informed about its offerings and tourism products. We are hopeful to get better business.
Manmeet Singh, Chairman – Haryana & Chandigarh chapter, ADTOI
I am glad to be a part of the 9th ADTOI convention. We are blessed with the vision of PM Modi who has taken enormous steps for the growth of tourism in Gujarat. Coming to this convention and brushing up my knowledge about the new tourism products of Gujarat is truly enlightening.