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Indian tourism all set to don new mantle

From ticketing and organising sight-seeing trips, travel agents and tour operators in India are all set to don a new mantle: They intend to go global, think international and tackle thematic tourism. In other words aim high, reports Kumkum Chadha.

business Updated: Sep 28, 2009 22:48 IST
Kumkum Chadha

From ticketing and organising sight-seeing trips, travel agents and tour operators in India are all set to don a new mantle: They intend to go global, think international and tackle thematic tourism. In other words aim high.

If the forthcoming Indian Travel Congress is any indication, the Indian travel and tourism industry will promote medical tourism in a big way. Partnering with their counterparts in Dubai tourism, the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) is gearing up to promote what TAAI President Rajinder Rai termed as a “unique segment of wellness tourism”.

TAAI is among the country’s oldest association of travel agents. Dubbed as their “voice”, it has been active on the issue of non payment of commission and rationalization of service tax and streamlining issue of passports. The thorny issue of commission to travel agents is under consideration. Back home, the Government is expected to give its verdict on September 30 when the Convention is underway here. In a bid to check the numbers from the Middle East going to Europe and USA for medical treatment, TAAI intends to showcase India as a preferred destination for medical tourism: “India has the best doctors and pioneering work in Ayurveda and spiritual and medical tourism. Dubai, Rai told newspersons on the eve of TAAI’s annual conference here: “We need to showcase India and its potential in wellness tourism”.

The Convention theme: Fittest will forge ahead. A double barrel because on the one hand it reiterates the importance of wellness and on the other incorporates to ride over recession rather than succumb to it: “Take the world head on and achieve progress and profit” said Convention Chairman Sunil Kumar.

In any down turn the travel industry suffers the most: “If any sector sneezes, the travel industry catches a cold” is how Rai put it even while pushing in what he sees as a “win win formula”. This, he said, was possible through promotion of themes than places or sites: “The need is to look at things globally and push India’s strengths in the sectors of beach tourism, medical and wild life tourism to start with. This will give an opportunity for the fittest to survive even in adversity and help take business to the next level” said Rai. With this TAAI would take a “giant leap” from being national to going global.

Choosing Dubai as a destination for annual Congress was because Dubai is a forerunner in promoting tourism and has shown that “it can do it”. Tourism promotion, however, rests on reciprocity: “It is not a one way street and has to be done bi-laterally” he said.

Concerns were, however, expressed on two issues: on the Indian Government’s lukewarm approach to tourism promotion and the absence of travel opportunities for the middle level traveler to visit Dubai. TAAI was quick to defend the first by stating that they had “ample support” of the Indian government: “A delegation does not need to fly down to affirm solidarity. They are with us” said Kumar in a vociferous defense of the Indian Government.

On Dubai being unaffordable for the middle class tourist, it was pointed out that there was everything for all: affordable apartments for the budget traveler and seven star luxury hotels for the super rich, as it were. Carl Vaz, Director Dubai Tourism said Dubai was gearing up to cater to India’s middle class and were looking beyond the rich.

The four day convention will promote Dubai’s key features while specifically dedicating sessions to Brand India, E powered empowerment, promotion of multi-lateral regional tourism between India and Dubai and the changing face of travel companies.