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Thursday, 02 January, 2020, 12 : 27 PM [IST]

The Trust & Perception Deficit!

While going into a New Year, the tourism industry instead of shedding the baggage will be carrying couple of them from the past year. These are extremely delicate and need to be handled carefully. The first one is the baggage of 'Trust'. We are not talking about having it in surplus, but not having it or having huge deficit of it in the travel and tourism value chain world over. The collapse of the so-called behemoths of the travel industry mid-way through the year had not only shaken the industry, but at the same time inflicted a dent on the trust that millions of travellers across the globe reposed in the industry. While repatriation of travellers stranded in different parts of the world made headlines as one of the largest peace-time works, what went unnoticed is the millions of dollars stuck in the travel value chain in the process, kick-starting an uncertain and long process of litigation and reconciliation. In the New Year, the onus will be on the industry and its apex organisations to sit together and device a policy framework so as to regain the trust and confidence of its customers.

The second baggage is that of 'Perception'; largely an India-specific issue. It seems, we move farther every time we try to bridge the perception gap as a destination. Our Tourism Minister harps on the perception issue every time he gets to the microphone. It's not just dearth of funds, but lack of perception as a destination is a bane for the country and needed corrective measures, he stresses. Spot on, Minister Sir! But, are we doing anything to uplift the image and perception? Damn, nothing! Neither the image of our publicity hungry parliamentarians facing cameras with face masks on when the Capital was engulfed in smog, nor the silence of the Tourism Ministry did help the situation. The issue of women safety continues to haunt the country years after the unfortunate 'Nirbhaya' episode with sitting legislators being convicted for life. The decision of the Delhi government to depute Marshals in public buses for women safety, although a welcome move locally, sends a question mark about women safety for the outside world.

As we are going into a New Year, even the great image-building exercises that our own Prime Minister has undertaken so far through his frequent travels seems to be ebbing out. There has been backlash from across the globe against the recent policy decisions of the government, resulting in travel advisories being clamped even by many friendly governments, and questioned by international agencies. So, in 2020 it looks as if Indian Tourism has its work cut out to keep the Incredible India story pick up momentum again!

PKrishna Kumar
Bureau Chief
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