The travel and tourism industry has been hit by global and local events such as the economic slowdown and 26/11 terror attacks. These will be some of the talk points of industry leaders and government officials at an annual meeting of the World Travel and Travel Council India Initiative (WTTCII), part of international industry body WTTC, on October 28 in New Delhi. Raymond Bickson, chairperson, WTTCI and MD and CEO of the Indian Hotels Company of the Tata group, spoke to Hindustan Times about the industry’s agenda.
On the role of the WTTC
The WTTC is a 15-year old organisation that represents various stakeholders of the industry and we approach the government to grow the travel and tourism sectors.
The travel and tourism industry is the single largest employer and contributes about 10 to 12 per cent of the global GDP and 3 to 4 per cent of India’s GDP.
On challenges facing the industry
We are seeking infrastructure status for the industry and help on the relaxation of Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) surcharges. We are lobbying for allowing visa-on arrival as a delay in getting arrival conflicts with the entire ‘Incredible India’ campaign.
On Delhi’s readiness for Commonwealth Games
Commonwealth is a major event for the country to show its infrastructure. I was in Delhi last week and saw that the terminals at the Delhi airport look comparable to any other airport abroad. New hotels are coming up. I am very positive that we are going to put a good face to the world.
On the state of the industry
Ours is a cyclical business. Indian Hotels Company operates in over 10 countries and our business in North America and Europe got severely impacted, much more than in Asia. We in India are better off to come out of the impact much quicker than others. October to April is the season for business and I expect sales to outperform last year’s.