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Thursday, 05 October, 2017, 12 : 32 PM [IST]

New Business Opportunities

Disha Shah Ghosh | Kolkata

The past few years have seen a change in landscape of the travel and tourism in India. Moving away from the main metro cities, the Tier-II and III markets have emerged as strong growth engines, a result of increase in spending power and growing aspiration to travel among the population. Realising the opportunity, Tourism Marketplace brought together hotel companies, established brands as well as stand-alone properties, from across the country on a single platform to directly meet with the travel fraternity. This was the first time a trade event of such of a kind was being organised in India, a show for hoteliers by hoteliers.

R . Sudhan, IAS. Director (Tourism) Government of Manipur along with Seema Halder, Deputy Secretary (Tourism), Government of West Bengal, Taufiq Uddin Ahmed, President, Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh (TOAB) and Kanchan Deopa, Founder and COO, Tourism Marketplace at the inauguration

Over the past few years, the travel & tourism industry in India has seen a growing influx of trade shows with varying formats in the metro cities. What was common among each one of them that they largely provided a platform to all the stakeholders in the business—travel agents, tour operators, destinations, attractions, service providers and hotels—to showcase their products under one roof. However, with India emerging as a potential market for tourism across the world, and Indian travellers themselves looking for a customised experience domestically as well as abroad, hospitality professionals Amit Nag and Kanchan Deopa realised that there is opportunity to create a platform where hoteliers could directly connect with trade partners for long-term business association. This led them to conceiving the idea of Tourism Marketplace, a dedicated trade platform for hoteliers to negotiate deals directly with the tourism fraternity.

According to Kanchan Deopa, Founder & COO, Tourism Marketplace, “We could sense that there are many opportunities on the B2B as well as B2C travel shows in India. Being the first hotel professionals in India to get into this tourism trade fair space, we decided to use our experience and curate a show only for hoteliers. Despite intense competition in the business, we believe that the USP of a show would help in creating a niche. We were clear that with this initiative we are ready to deliver an effective platform exclusively for hoteliers.”

Kanchan Deopa and Amit Nag at Tourism Marketplace in Kolkata

Tourism Marketplace debuted at Kolkata on September 18 at the Lalit Great Eastern. The one-day show saw 41 exhibitors and more than 120 regional buyers interacting over a tabletop format. The event was inaugurated by R. Sudhan, IAS. Director (Tourism) Government of Manipur along with Seema Halder, Deputy Secretary (Tourism), Government of West Bengal, Taufiq Uddin Ahmed, President, Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh (TOAB). The event had Manipur Tourism and Gujarat Tourism as Focus States, while West Bengal Tourism was the Host State. Besides, global hotel brands like IHG, Hyatt, Taj, Oberoi Hotels & Resorts, Leela Palaces, Resorts and Hotels, Novotel, Pullman, Andaz, Radisson, Alila, Fairmont, domestic brands like brands like Lemon Tree Hotels, Red Fox, HRH Hotels, Ambassador Hotels, Sarovar Hotels, Chancery Hotels, Classic Hotels, Mayfair Hotels and stand-alone hotels such as Grand Uniara The Chariot Resort & Spa participated as exhibitors. This was also the first time Jaipur Exhibition & Convention Centre participated in a hospitality show. Another first time entrant in an Indian show was the The Galaxy Group of Enterprises from Bangladesh, which showcased The Way Hotel Dhaka and Novoair.

On selecting Kolkata as the launch destination, Deopa says, “Majority of the trade fairs are concentrated on the main metros of Mumbai and Delhi. However, the opportunity lies in Tier-II and III cities where there is a huge population with spending power. East India specifically has been a market where point of sale hasn’t been recognised and therefore its potential is not tapped. Therefore, we decided to start with Kolkata, the gateway to the region.”

Buyers & exhibitors at Tourism Marketplace

Buyers & exhibitors at Tourism Marketplace

Amit Nag, Founder & CEO, said, “We decided to focus on the Tier-II, III & IV markets, tapping new clients and focus on the opportunities that these potential markets have. We felt that the potential of East India is yet to be tapped in a structured format. Also, there is a perception that this market is not a favourable source for business; therefore, we wanted to break that myth among hoteliers and help them understand that potential of this region and offer them a platform to create new business opportunity. Since Kolkata is the gateway to the East, we decided to launch Tourism Marketplace in this city. Going forward, the event will be held in Guwahati on November 21 and in Patna in December. With the phenomenal response received in Kolkata, would now make it a permanent event in these cities henceforth.”
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