Make India an attractive proposition for Indians: Suman Billa at Rajasthan Domestic Travel Mart
Akansha Pandey | New Delhi
In 2017, 23 million Indians travelled outbound and UNWTO has forecasted that in the next four years, outbound travel from India will cross 50 million. To retain a fraction of this number and their spending in the country itself, stakeholders need to first make India an attractive proposition for Indians travellers to holiday, stated Suman Billa, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Tourism giving the inaugural address at the opening ceremony of Rajasthan Domestic Travel Mart (RDTM) at Hotel Clarks Amer in Jaipur.
The brainchild of Federation of Hospitality and Tourism of Rajasthan (FHTR) in association with Rajasthan Tourism, RDTM is the state’s first such initiative targeting to boost domestic travel and soar visitor numbers to Rajasthan, said Gyan Prakash, Secretary General, FHTR.
In the maiden edition, Bhim Singh, President, FHTR revealed that RDTM is featuring 160 booths of local suppliers looking forward to networking with 200 Indian buyers and media, with 4,982 pre-fixed meetings. He also urged the Rajasthan Government to make it an annual event.
Citing trained human resource as one of the biggest challenges in the industry, Dr. Lalit K Panwar, Vice-Chancellor, Rajasthan ILD Skill University (RISU) insisted on re-skilling, up-skilling and niche-skilling to enhance the quality of one’s travel experience.
Applauding the B2B travel mart, Billa added that India is on the cusp of a major breakthrough in the tourism sector and other states need to follow this model of RDTM. Focussing entirely on domestic tourism, such marts can play a significant role in connecting the dots and create better synergies in the market, stressed Billa.
He highlighted that the inbound arrivals have been surging year on year. However, India can witness the next level of growth by leveraging the domestic tourism further equally and strongly. From 864 million domestic visitations in 2011, the figure has rapidly doubled in five years span to 1.6 billion in 2016 and 1.74 billion in the last year. Additionally, the major growth in travel numbers is now being witnessed from the Tier-II and III cities such as Ludhiana, Visakhapatnam, Indore, etc.
As done in the Kerala Tourism campaign, he urged that it is time to look at high-spending travellers rather than numbers. Reports reveal that the Indian travellers spend way higher on food and beverage and shopping than the foreign travellers. The ready market of the Indian travellers who are very much capable of spending the top dollar needs to acknowledged and strategised.
Billa emphasised that when a new destination is opened up and is frequented by the domestic visitors, the infrastructure development also speeds up and it goes on to become an international destination. In India, 1 out of 8 jobs is created in the tourism sector, which accounts for 12% of the total workforce in India. Going forward, he said that if India has to deliver and take jobs to the poorest parts of the country to enable the economic transformation at the community level, there is no engine better equipped than tourism to deliver on the growth.