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Maharashtra Tourism Minister keen on development; assures support to industry stakeholders

On the occasion of World Tourism Day, the Indian Merchants Chamber (IMC) organised a panel discussion on ‘Rethinking Tourism’. At the discussion, Mangal Prabhat Lodha, Minister for Tourism, Government of Maharashtra, assured complete support to the travel, tourism and hospitality industry stakeholders for positioning the state as a preferred choice for domestic and international tourists alike, by using newer techniques and changing methods for development.

Sharing his views, he said, “The responsibility of the government is to create basic infrastructure whereas the job of tourism development lies with the industry stakeholders. The government will be the guiding light behind the initiatives taken by experts on tourism. We have created a calendar of events for 2 years, and will soon be releasing it for review. Tourism in Maharashtra will grow if we focus on developing areas around Mumbai while focusing on capital as the entry point.”

Enumerating on the theme, Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, VP, FHRAI (Federation of Hotels & Restaurant Association of India), “States should compete among each other instead of overseas destinations. We have suggested incentivising domestic tourism for revival.  If we can convince tourists to spend an extra night in the city of Mumbai, it can add an additional INR 108 crore to the state revenue.”

Ajay Prakash, President, TAFI (Travel Agents Federation of India, pointed out, “There are no facilities for women on our highways and even in the cities.  If basic infrastructure is created, it will be enough to boost travel sentiment. We can save INR 4 crore alone on advertising our destinations. Moreover, with the changing trend, we should focus on activity-based tourism for generating interest.”

Carl Vaz, President, SKAL International India and Chairman & CEO, Charson Advisory Services Pvt Ltd, urged for government support to avert attrition rate in the industry “There is a gap between study and work. Internship and mentorship is missing. Entry-level salaries are low, and we need to secure support from the government to ensure the workforce remains enticed to the segment.”

Vivek Braganza, Assistant VP, Shangri-La Group spoke about using newer techniques to make the industry sustainable, like using solar power.

Also present on the occasion was Rajiv Duggal, MD, Travel Specialists. He said that it was out of sheer necessity that Indians started taking domestic holidays during the pandemic. “People have lost trust in the tourism industry. Skilled manpower is not ready to join back the industry after the pandemic. We need to relook at our efficiency as a business. Once the visa issues are resolved, Indians will start flocking to overseas destinations again.”

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