The first edition of the Maharashtra International Travel Mart (MITM) saw Chief Minister (CM) Devendra Fadnavis announcing a slew of sops for the tourism and hospitality industry, and launching some of the key projects to boost the sector. Besides, senior officials from the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corproation (MTDC), MITM 2015 received wholehearted support from the state government and the Union Ministry of Tourism (MoT).
The CM inaugurated MITM on September 28, 2015, at the Bombay Convention & Exhibition Center, in the presence of Ram Shinde, Minister of State for Tourism, Maharashtra; Shubhash Desai, Minister of Industries, Maharashtra; Vidya Thakur, Minister of State for Women & Child Development, Maharashtra; Gajanan Kirtikar, MP; Swadhin Kshatriya, IAS, Secretary Maharashtra; Valsa Nair Singh, IAS, Secretary Tourism & Culture, Govt. of Maharashtra; and Paraag Jaiin Nainuttia, IAS, MD, MTDC.
The three-day event witnessed participation of 300 buyers and over 1,000 trade visitors, with 6,000 scheduled appointments.
Speaking at the launch, Fadnavis said, “The mart has brought all tourism stakeholders under one roof. There’s great scope for tourism in Maharashtra and India. 2017 will be celebrated as Visit Maharashtra Year. The Kumbh Mela in Nashik had 2 crore visitors, which is a record. All the CMs, saints and common people appreciated the efforts of the state government and said that we have set a benchmark. There was no loss of life reported and there wasn’t any stampede.”Pushing the Envelope
Talking at the formal inauguration at JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar, Fadnavis announced a range of measures being taken by the Maharashtra government to boost the tourism and hospitality sector. Fadnavis said, “The number of hotel licences have been reduced from 71 to 25 and further consolidated into 6, for which only 1 form has to be filled on the digital platform. The Government of Maharashtra has also relaxed regulatory framework for film shooting. Film-makers have to apply online and if they don’t get a response in 7 days from the state, it will be deemed granted.”
Mumbai can be a city for live performances. Organising a live show in Mumbai is a tough task, because of the number of the permissions required, he said. “We want to promote Mumbai and Maharashtra as destinations for hosting live events. Therefore, they will be designated as event destinations and no permissions will be required from the state. The organisers just need to inform the government about the event they are conducting,” he added.
In respect to the draft tourism policy of the state, the CM said, “The policy is aimed at attracting private investments, and the travel and tourism industry is welcome to give suggestions. The policy should be tourist-operator friendly and actually be aimed at ease of doing business.”
Fadnavis also took the opportunity to unveil the new website of MTDC and the mobile application (app) of the board, Maha Explorer. The app is now available on Google Playstore and one will soon be able to access it on AppStore. One will be able to access the app offline in the coming months.
“The first ever centre for scuba diving in India has become operational in Sindhudurg. It will be an added advantage for a tourist visiting Maharashtra,” the CM stated.
Valsa Nair Singh said, “Tourism is a people-based economic activity. We are poised for exponential growth. , Executive Director of Messe Berlin (Singapore), the organiser of ITB AsiaCM has been 100% for MITM from the first instance.”
Singh also used the MITM platform to urge MoT to bring the proposed India Travel Mart to the financial capital. “The draft national tourism policy talks about a India Travel Mart, and Mumbai with its world-class airport, infrastructure support, stable law and order situation and entrepreneurial support, is the best destination to host the event. So I urge the Centre to consider Mumbai as the potential destination.”
Paraag Jaiin Nainuttia informed that MTDC is planning to organise the Elephanta festival, Kalidas festival in Nagpur in November, and Allora Festival in Aurangabad. “We are planning to organise Mumbai Shopping Festival on the lines of Dubai Shopping Festival in January, which will showcase footwear, apparels, jewellery and transform Mumbai into a shopping hub. The entire city will participate in Mumbai Shopping Festival. The Government of Maharashtra will soon implement a single-window clearance policy for the hospitality sector. This Department is headed by the honourable CM. Tourism is the only industry which can bridge geographies and has multiplier effect.”
Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State with Independent Charge for Tourism & Culture and Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Government of India, “I compliment MTDC for coming up with MITM. Tourism generates foreign exchange and employment and leads to women empowerment. Tourism is all about perception, therefore when tourists are aware that India is a clean and friendly destination, people will start coming to the country.”
Lauding the potential of Mumbai, Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan, who was the guest at the event, rounded up the evening by saying, “I don’t see why Mumbai cannot be the entertainment capital of the world, when it is already home of Bollywood and the entertainment capital of Asia.”
The evening saw Ram Shinde; Vinod Tawde, Minister for Primary, Higher and Technical Education, Medical Education and Culture, Government of Maharashtra; Poonam Mahajan, MP, Mumbai; Satish Soni, Joint MD, MTDC, and MLA Parag Alavani. Brainstorming
The session ‘Sustainable Tourism - towards responsible Tourism Development’ was moderated by Pandurang Taware, MD, Agri Tourism. He said, “Sustainable and responsible tourism go hand in hand.” Avinash Jogdand, Farmer Sustainable Approach Case stated, “Agri tourism is the better way to sustain the farmers, they benefit a lot from it.” Raju Bhandarkavtekar, Sustainable Tourism Practitioner, shared, “Tourists visit destinations to have a good time. We have to merge that with sustainable tourism - which is about doing right things - people will like that a lot.”
The last session on the first day, Medical Tourism and was moderated by Vinod Gupta, Minister for Culture, Government of Maharashtra. Dr Kohli from Ministry of AYUSH said, “Ayurveda needs to find a place in Maharashtra’s map as well. Housekeeping is very important for repeated footfalls.”
Gupta summed it up by saying, “We are sitting on a gold mine today with skill sets available. A lot of dermatologists are working in Maharashtra and that would help medical tourism in the state.”
At the ‘Growth Trajectory from MITM 2015 on Maharashtra’s Hospitality Industry’, Bharat Malkani, President, HRAWI, said, “Easing of business from 5 licences will bring marked changes in the governance of hotel properties. It is a positive step and will facilitate huge investment potential in Maharashtra.”
‘Shoot in Maharashtra’ was another seminar where Vinod Tawde, was one of the speakers. In his address, Tawde said that the state government will soon issue online permits to film-makers within a day.
Tushar Sathe, Sales Manager, Bawa Group of Hotels
I have received couple of enquiries from people based in Maharashtra, Delhi and Udaipur. Whatever they promised, they have delivered. The appointment confirmations that we got from them, all of them turned up.
Anup Jayant Mhaigi, Working Partner, Wanderlust
This is our first exhibition outside our home turf - Pune. The concept of a B2B exhibition such as MITM is an eye-opener. All the previous exhibitions that we attended have been open for all. At MITM, we have been able to contact travel agents based in Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, etc. We received inquiries from many travel agents about summer camps for kids, and we will design special packages for them.
Harish Trivedi, Senior Manager Business Development, KidZania
We are very happy with the kind of visitations, which is much more as compared to other marts. We have received many enquiries, and are educating people about KidZania, because it is a global and novel concept. We are initiating a database, and will send e-mailers accordingly. It is a chain that we are building and sooner or later, it will materialise.
Azeem Khan, Sales Manager - B2B, Adlabs Entertainment
We recently launched Novotel, and within 6 months we will be opening SnowWorld. We are here to let customers get a feel of Imagica. Creating awareness is an on going process. We have been able to promote our product not only to buyers from Mumbai, but also Kolkata. We have shifted our focus to pan India.
Tejas Trehan, Assistant Sales Manager, Accor Hotels
Footfall at MITM is not as what we expected. Our primary intention was to make our brand known to people. I am happy to some extent that we got queries from travel agents and now we want to convert the queries in business.
Umashankar Prasad, Director, Department of Tourism,
Bihar is focusing on 2 aspects-Guru Gobind Singh and Jain tourism. We are going to celebrate 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh on January 5, 2016. During that time we are expecting more than 50 lakhs tourists both from India and abroad visit Patna Sahib. In order to make it a grand success, we have already started marketing activities and are also participating in WTM London. In this direction, the state government has instructed concerned departments to work in a cohesive manner. We will provide tent house facility which will be spread over in 70 acres of land with all modern facilities. Apart from this, we have also created a beautiful lake named Ghora-Katora Lake located near Rajgir.
Arif Khan, General Manager, Sales & Marketing,
The Byke Hospitality Ltd.
I am impressed with MITM. We are promoting our 5 hotels located in Goa, Matheran, Manali, Jaipur and Thane through this exhibition. We received good enquiries and are hopeful to convert 30% of them into business. However, the organisers should take more steps for pre-event promotion of MITM from the next edition.
IIPT India presents 1st Peace Awards for 'Empowered Women in Tourism'
Conducting 2 Knowledge Sessions with international speakers and organising the 1st Peace Awards for ‘Empowered Women in Tourism’, the International Institute for Peace through Tourism- India (IIPT India) added to the success of the MITM.
‘Tourism – A Powerful Tool for Peace’ focused on the potential of tourism to drive sustainable and inclusive development, leading to greater understanding, acceptance, prosperity and peace and opened with a personal video message from Dr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary General, UNWTO. The speakers included Mr. Dipak Haksar, COO, ITC Hotels; Dr. Patrick Kalifungwa, ex Minister for Tourism & Industry, Govt. of Zambia & Vice Chancellor of the Livingstone International University of Excellence in Tourism and Business Management, Lusaka; Kia Scherr, President, One Like Alliance and Kiran Yadav, Vice President, IIPT India. The session was moderated by Ajay Prakash, President, IIPT India. “That peace is necessary for tourism is axiomatic,” stated Prakash, adding, “The purpose of the session is to explore how tourism could foster peace.”
‘The Critical Role of Women in Tourism & Strategies to Empower Women’ was the subject of the second Knowledge Session on 29 September. Rika Jean-Francois, Commissioner for CSR, ITB; Archana Tomar, Founder, Mountain People; Michelle Kakade, the only Indian woman to have completed marathons in 4 deserts, and Parvathy Omanakuttan, Miss India 2008 and 1st Runner-up Miss World 2008, were the speakers. The session was moderated by Dr. Patrick Kalifungwa.
IIPT India Awards
The Valedictory Session and the IIPT India Awards brought MITM 2015 to a close. At a ceremony at the JW Marriott Sahar, Vidyasagar Rao, Governor of Maharashtra, presented the awards in the presence of Sudhir Mungantiwar, Minister of Finance, Forests & Planning, Government of Maharashtra; Prof. Ram Shinde, Minister of State for Tourism, Government of Maharashtra; Valsa Nair Singh, IAS, Secretary Tourism & Culture, Government of Maharashtra, and Paraag Jaiin Nainuttia, IAS, MD, MTDC.
In his introductory speech, Ajay Prakash, thanked Maharashtra Tourism for their support and recounted a brief history of the International Institute for Peace Through Tourism. The award winners, he stated, were women who had contributed to the community in a meaningful fashion and were role models. IIPT India will conduct the International Awards for Empowered Women in Tourism at the ITB Berlin in March 2016. The awards will be held in association with UNWTO and ITB under the title ‘Celebrating Her’.
- Anita Deshpande – Co Founder of “Temple Pilots” for contribution to Adventure Tourism
- Rashmi Sawant – Founder of “Culture Aangan” for contribution to Rural Tourism
- Pamela Gale Malhotra – Co Founder of “SAI Sanctuary” for services in Protecting Nature and Promoting Eco Friendly Tourism
- Sampada Kulkarni – Co Founder of “Aanadache Shet” for contribution to Agri Tourism and the Organic Greening of India
- Neelu Singh – COO of Ezeego1 for the Integration of Technology in Travel & Tourism