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Thursday, 28 September, 2017, 10 : 30 AM [IST]

Augmenting Inbound & Outbound Tourist Arrivals

In 2007, with the introduction of TravelBiz Monitor to this trade, I witnessed a significant change in the news and information that was provided. It reached out to every professional in the travel, tourism, hospitality and aviation industry, with statistical data, strategical content and relevant information to assist in one’s business, besides capturing memorable moments on photographs. Wishing the team all the best to raise the benchmark even higher
Historically, travel was for the elite, but with the removal of gate keepers, falling costs, India’s emergence as a power in the service industry, along with the growth in the middle class, travel belonged to the masses.

Today’s travellers are the millennials, as of 2016, there were 411mn millennials in India, according to UN’s Population database, accounting for 30.6% of the country’s total population, well ahead of any other age group. Their presence is felt even more strongly within the labour force, comprising 46.4% of India’s working age population. They are tech savvy, connected and changing the way travel is researched, booked and consumed. In the next 10 years this group will be the travel sector’s key customer base.

This new group has a low tolerance for barriers and a high expectation for efficiencies, unfortunately travel in India is based on the 20th century infrastructure, these are particularly noticeable with the operations of travel agents, tour operators, documentation (visas) etc. Travel barriers like trade barriers, impede growth, with the introduction of Visa on Arrival (VOA), foreign tourist arrival (FTATA) has seen a growth of 56.6% year on year in December 2016, from 445,300 to 1,079,69.

We have experienced how technology has changed the way we live and work, from manual communications to virtual. New technologies will continue to revolutionise our business and slowly merge our physical areas to digital working spaces, but barriers continue in the geopolitical space, with a rise in terrorism, racism and xenophobia, the world is experiencing a new order, which could threaten decades of development. Yet, technology could be the answer to circumventing red tape and creating a seamless passage across borders.

The aviation, hospitality, travel & tourism industry has seen a sea change with the introduction of technology, but the revolution will continue. Customers have transformed the way they travel, the industry would need to do so to provide products that enhances customer experience and operational performance.

Online travel aggregators i.e. OTAOTA’s and the sharing economy of i.e. Airbnb, etc., are on the rise.

The challenge for the industry is to keep in touch with this segment with high-tech applications, yet not lose the human touch interface. So will this change the manner in which people for our industry are recruited, trained and managed?

The travel & tourism sector expects to generate 13.45 million jobs across all sectors and segments and will outperform several other industries in time to come. Despite these figures, the industry has challenges in attracting the right talent at all levels and positions.

Understanding the importance of acquiring the right talent, training to meet the requirements of the new segments and sustaining this qualitative growth, will require close collaboration between the private and the public sector. The industry needs to inform universities and other educational institutions the changes in the market and ensure that the right syllabus and trainings are in place to meet the market requirements/needs and technological advancements.

With the expected growth in travel the economic benefits are clear, but the damage to the environment and local communities has to be considered. The usage of water and energy by visitors as well as generation of waste has to be addressed to minimise the impact and provide a long-term sustainability for our industry.

The aviation, hospitality, travel and tourism industry are vital to our economy; it has a contributing factor for job creation, infrastructural development and play a vital role to the county’s GDP. The industry has seen a positively disruptive change in booking methods, product and market access and transparent pricing and customer service levels. Yet, despite this change we are sitting with archaic laws and protectionist policies. We surely need to align both to bring about a future which is conducive to an all inclusive growth.

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