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Monday, 01 October, 2018, 12 : 38 PM [IST]

GTC India-Egypt Business Convention - Sewing Varied Business Sectors Together

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The Global Tourism Council’s India-Egypt Business Convention managed to bring together players from varied segments under one umbrella to deliberate and network over a platform created by experienced travel & tourism professionals. This was the first time a tourism convention had delegates from the film industry, investment as well as decorated medical professionals delving on issues from a global perspective, and also discussing the Egypt as a potential destination. The convention also served as a platform for Destination Zanzibar to clear the myths and offer a perspective on its tourism products and services along with the potential and advantage it enjoys with Tanzania for the Indian market. Disha Shah Ghosh offers insights into this maiden step by GTC.

Pic Courtesy: The Digital Travellers

Against the backdrop of the majestic Pyramids of Giza, Ashish Kumar Singh, Principal Secretary – Transport & Port Home Department, Government of Maharashtra, addressed a distinguished audience about the cultural lineage of India and Egypt, two of the world’s oldest civilizations just past sunset on September 16 at Marriott Mena House. He used the platform to make a strong pitch for Destination India, detailing its position in the global market as the world’s fastest growing economy and how this is the apt time to look at investing in this Asian market. “This is a celebration of two of the ancient civilisations in the world. The GTC Convention is the most inclusive and sustainable environment to grow bilateral ties between India and Egypt, where it all began.”

Singh elaborated on how investment is a key to the growth of any sector and ease of doing business has already started showing its results for corporate entities in India. He spoke about the position of India in the global tourism market, elaborating on consistently surging tourism statistics as well the strong GDP growth of 8.2% witnessed in the quarter ending June 2018. Singh, an old hand at tourism, enumerated the value of tourism in the current scenario and how sectors like medical and film industry can contribute their bit to improve bilateral trade and travel, with adequate investment. “The India- Egypt Business Convention is the right platform to market both nations and create a roadmap for tourism with a cultural history of the Ganges and the Nile rivers.”

Welcoming the delegates, Iqbal Mulla, Chief Counsel, GTC, said, “This is not a travel association convention; this is a forum for investment, bilateral tourism and creating opportunities for film productions. The effort is to create dedicated plans for improving relations across these sectors between both the nations.”

Ahmed Youssef, Chairman, Egyptian Tourism Promotion Board, promised all kind of support for businesses and investment in Egypt and film production companies to improve the position of the North African nation in the Indian market. “Egypt Tourism has overseas offices in 8 markets, and one of them is in India. There has been a surge in tourist numbers from India, especially in the past 2 years. This is a clear evidence of the importance of India for Egypt.”

The convention was spread over 2 days with half day dedicated to Business Sessions, followed by networking opportunities. The evenings saw an honours night and valedictory dinner, respectively.

Pic Courtesy: The Digital Travellers

‘LCCs or FSCs: The sustainable model in the current aviation environment for medium-haul operations?’

Moderator Sheldon Santwan, Editor & COO, TravelBiz Monitor gave an overview about the current aviation environment in the world, eventually moving on to the UDAN scheme of the Indian government. Valsa Nair Singh, Principal Secretary, Excise & Civil Aviation, Government of Maharashtra, said that Indian aviation sector couldn’t have been in a better space that it is today with 1billion passengers on the domestic sector with a growth of 25%, a new Civil Aviation Policy in place as well as the Regional Connectivity Scheme, UDAN, which will connect 495 underserved airports. “There is no threat for domestic carriers from their foreign counterparts. There is too much importance given to the concept of FSCs and LCCs. There is scope for growth for everyone. FSCs are under stress because of the volatility in the oil markets and expensive AT F. However, there is space for both formats to co-exist.”

Explaining his perspective, Amey Amladi, CEO, Akbar Travels, said, “There is a sea change in terms of travel. The increase in capacity has led to a far war on the domestic and international sides. Airlines are operating on wafer thin margins and therefore a right balance of revenue management is the key. Crude prices, hopefully, should stabilize.” Jilesh Babla, Director, Zanzibar Tourism Promotion Centre (ZTPC), spoke about how improved air access has allowed the entire African region to open its tourism business. He said, “With carriers like Ethiopian, Air Rwanda, Kenya Airways, Air Tanzania getting aggressive in India, the opportunities created are huge since India is now a major focus for the continent for its outbound potential.”

Rajiv Duggal, Deputy Chief Counsel, GTC, shared how air connectivity, especially direct flights, are proving to be a shot in the arm for destinations. He cited the example of how the non-stop service by EgyptAir from Mumbai has been a boost for Egypt Tourism.


Dev Karvat – Founder & CEO, India & Emerging Markets, TrawellTag Cover-More
Congratulations to the GTC on a successfully maiden Convention at Cairo. The congregation of distinguished delegates at the convention presented us with opportunity for enriching collaborations, resulting in rich value addition for our business. It also served as a platform to arrive at new solutions for challenges faced by the industry today. The participation of the film fraternity also enabled the travel trade to understand their travel needs, especially in today’s times, when travelling has become an integral part of film-making.

Vinay Malhotra, COO – Middle East, South Asia, & China, VFS Global
Dialogue has always been a very important factor in driving the Indian travel industry forward, and tourism trade bodies have played a stellar role in facilitating this dialogue and nurturing the industry. It was heartening to note that the convention hosted by the GTC in Egypt, has taken these collaborative efforts forward, and demonstrated the commitment of the Indian travel trade to make further advancements, with a focus on tourism, business investment, and even partnerships with the vibrant Indian film industry. I thank GTC for a productive and inspiring convention in Egypt and wish GTC every success as it develops a truly global tourism body.

Pic Courtesy: The Digital Travellers

Opportunities & Challenges for Tourism in New and Emerging destinations

This session saw panelists discussing the potential solutions for catering to Indian tourists for overseas destinations and products. BA Rahim, Group Director & CEO, Akquasun, listed out the 5 key changes to be adopted – air connectivity, landing procedures, F&B, hotel flexibility and safety & security. “Indian guests are demanding and require an atmosphere where their needs are accommodated. Indian food is of paramount importance, while hassle-free landing procedures are imperative.”

He cited examples of destinations like Maldives and Mauritius which have taken a proactive approach in ensuring Indian guest needs, which ultimately led to a surge in tourist numbers.

Nicolas Cedro, Hotel Manager, Park Hyatt Zanzibar was of the opinion that large MICE or wedding groups are a challenge because of the logistical arrangements required. “There needs to be a realization of expectations vs. reality.”

While replying to a query about lack of awareness about Zanzibar in India from Moderator Sheldon Santwan, Mahmoud Thabit Kombo, Minister for Information, Tourism and Heritage, Revolution Government of Zanzibar, said that friendship between both nation dates back to 1660. He enumerated the large Gujarati diasporas in Zanzibar and Tanzania, and the strong trade links between the African and Asian neighbours. The Minister outlined how ZTPC has been working very closely with the travel trade fraternity in India to create awareness as well as address queries.

Dr. Suresh Vatsyayann, Sr. Consultant Medicine & Surgery, Health Policy & Management, spoke about his contention of Medical Tourism becoming a business. He instead suggested Fellowship of Doctors for Medical Tourism like an exchange programme as a solution to grow bilateral relationships, as a solution.

Kanwarjit Singh Sawhney from Bakshi Transport Service Pvt Ltd., was of the opinion that the market is diverse and each destination needs a separate strategy to be tapped.

Investment in Start-Ups: How viable is this business model?

The past few years have seen a surge in investments in new ideas and an environment where equity investment has become a trend, said Moderator Rajiv Duggal. According to Ankush Nijhawan, MD, Nijhawan Group of Companies, “Capital investment is very important for startups, and for that creating and building a niche is imperative.”

Sharing his experience, Sanjay Jagtianie, Kabe Arts Pvt Ltd, said that Africa is very big opportunity for investment. “Industries need to add value and niches have to give good returns to maintain investor confidence.”

For Dr. Kaushik Joshi from Kaushik Joshi & Associates, opined that investors are drawn to start-ups purely for their innovation. “Technology innovation has to be a daily process & investment is a key for start-ups.”

Partha Chatterjee, a hospitality veteran, sharing his experience of Keys Hotels said that a good idea will always find a fund manager. The panel was unanimous in their opinion that carving a niche and technology are equally important for any start-up to survive.

Film shoots in new destinations: Opportunities & Complexities

This session saw Moderator Jilesh Babla throwing open the floor for the various issues faced by film-makers in overseas destinations for shoots. Noted Bollywood Cinematographer Baba Azmi and Actress Tanvi Azmi spoke about their experiences of film-making and how there is need for an association or a body to address their issues with the foreign government bodies involved to create a process of dialogue. To this, Iqbal Mulla agreed that GTC would play that role.

Aman Bhatia, Partner, Island Holidays, spoke about the logistics required for film crew. He was of the opinion that a proactive approach from the destination in terms of air access as well as permissions goes a long way in creating a healthy atmosphere. Archana Trasy from WorkThatWorks spoke about the role of film-makers in such initiatives to take the lead. Dev Karvat – Founder & CEO, India & Emerging Markets, TrawellTag Cover-More, gave a perspective on the insurance requirements for such large group movements stationed at overseas destinations for a longer duration. The representative from the Film Tourism from Egypt assured all the support required for film-makers to consider the North African nation as their next location.

Pic Courtesy: The Digital Travellers

GTC Honors
The private venue of the palace wing of the Marriott Cairo saw GTC honouring the dynamic and outstanding efforts of individuals as well as companies for their innovation and business breakthrough.

The evening also saw the Tourism Minister of Zanzibar taking the opportunity to announce the country as the next Host for the GTC Convention.

While the Egypt Convention as a debut was a good start, what is required is concerted effort to sustain the momentum. The path that GTC has set for itself requires consistent dialogue and engagement between sectors as well as destinations. In fact, GTC has a larger role to play, that of creating a solid bridge for the parties involved. At the outset, it seems like a Herculean task, but issues and industries of such magnitude require a clear focus and dedication.
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