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Make room for tourism majors

business Updated: Mar 30, 2008 03:11 IST
Varun Soni

The Indian hospitality industry is confident of facing competition from international luxury hotel chains, many of whom are set for debut by the end of the year, delegates said on the second day of the conference.

“It is good that so many global hotel brands are coming to India, but they cannot beat us when it comes to understanding India, its cuisine and culture,” said Nakul Anand, divisional chief executive of ITC Hotels.

“The quality of talent and service that we have access to coupled with the atithi devo bhava philosophy will definitely see us emerge as winners,” he said. But despite its great culture and tradition, India only has a share of 0.53 per cent of world tourism today.

Travel is the new form of luxury, but the country has lagged in encouraging tourism. The government, experts say, needs to formulate a national level policy on tourism and have a tourism visa regime. The lack of a sound national policy is what is prompting nearly 10 million Indians to travel abroad every year on vacation. “The challenge is to keep Indians at home…only then can we reap the benefits” Anand said.

Many destinations within the country are overcrowded, lack basic infrastructure and are not easily accessible.

Gautam Chadha, chief executive of TIRUN Travel Marketing sees a greater scope for tourism within India than outbound travel. There are 400 million potential domestic travelers, he said. Also, there are challenges facing foreign travel firms.

“The foreign travel industry needs to adapt itself to the discerning Indian consumer, to be able to cater to their requirements,” he said. “The Indian traveler expects a certain degree of warmth he is used to at home. Foreign hospitality and travel companies need to understand that.”