With an eye on the inbound market, the first India Tourism Mart (ITM) has set its major focus at promoting domestic tourism.
The ITM was thrown open to professionals from the global tourism industry on September 17, 2018 in the Indian capital New Delhi. An initiative of the Indian tourism ministry, the three day mart was organised together with the Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH) and with the support of state governments.
Part of the paryatan parv or tourism festival of 2018, the objectives of the show included drawing focus on the benefits of tourism, showcasing the cultural diversity of the country and reinforcing the principle of ‘tourism for all’.
The ITM 2018 saw participation from hosted international buyers and media personnel from across the world with participants from North America, western Europe, East Asia, Latin America, and CIS countries among others.
Talking to Media India Group about the event, union tourism secretary Rashmi Verma said, “ITM is a game changer as it gives a platform to the Indian travel trade industry to interact with the world travel trade within India. Through this mart we are targeting the international tourists and we have 225 international buyers, who are going to having 40 meetings each. These B2B meetings are going to fructify and translate into a larger footfall of foreign tourists coming to India.”
Verma said that ITM will be an annual event hereafter and in line with other international tourism marts and the ministry will be releasing a calendar of ITM schedule for next five years in order to ensure wider participation.
The 2018 event also aimed to provide an opportunity to buyers to see the world class tourism facilities available in India, which include airports, hotels, tourist destinations, upcoming facilities, MICE facilities, possibility in the field of adventure tourism and other niche products.
Verma added that previous events like the paryatan parv have helped in the strong growth of tourism sector with a visible 18 pc growth in domestic tourist visits in 2017.
Eyeing different markets
Addressing the press at the event, union minister of tourism K. J. Alphons said, “Our main focus is to increase domestic tourism. Last year we had 1.8 billion domestic tourists. Our objective is to double this in the coming three years.”
Commenting on international tourist arrivals in the country and shunning some reports regarding a drop in inbound tourism, the minister said, “The numbers from every country have gone up in 2017 for inbound tourism. From the US, last year we had 1.37 million as compared to the 1.29 million in 2016.”
On lines of promotions abroad, the minister said “We have had our road shows in the US, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Europe, UK, Australia, Russia and the Nordic countries, so we are having a good promotion abroad. We have made five movies of one minute each, which we are promoting on western social media”. He added, “It is tourism for all. We do not differentiate on basis of sexual preferences or race. Anybody is welcome to India.”
Talking about the target countries for inbound tourism, he said, “There is a right atmosphere for promotion of tourism in China and that is going to be our big focus. It has the biggest outbound market in the world with 44 million tourists. Last year India received only 2, 40, 000 and that is why it is our focus.”
Adding to this Verma said, “We have a PR agency in China since the country is a huge focus for us but elsewhere, we hire PR professionals as and when required…around big events, etc.”
Preparing India for tourism
Religion, culture, nature, and luxury are some segments of the Indian tourism industry that attract both Indian and foreign tourists.
Commenting on the works that are being done to elevate the services and infrastructure of the same, union minister for railways, Piyush Goyal said, “Recently we have significantly reduced pricing of luxury trains such as Deccan Odyssey to encourage tourism.”
Remarking on the developments on line of religious tourism, Alphons said, “We have 15 thematic schemes for religious tourism, including Krishna circuit, Ramayana circuit and the Buddhist circuit, where we are setting up at least basic infrastructure.”
The minister also mentioned the heavy floods that had struck the south Indian state of Kerala last month and said, “Tourism is back on its feet in Kerala and every hotel, resort or destinations is now open.”