Touring for Business
Four international cities catering to the needs of entrepreneurs
From Nairobi to Langkawi through Cape Town and Abu Dhabi, the travel trade community met in the most exotic places to promote new destinations and products to Indian travellers. Here’s a round-up of the latest tourism events.
For the first time, PATA Travel Mart (PTM) gave the stage to innovative travel and tourism start-ups from the region to present their business models.
The PATA Youth Symposium was hosted by the Langkawi Development Authority (LADA) in September. Haji Azizan Bin Noordin, the chief executive officer of the Langkawi Development Authority and vice chairman at PATA said, “The PATA Youth Symposium provides a platform for leaders to inspire and guide our future generations. Langkawi is the best platform to discuss these topics, as we have a multi-racial youth and we are also one of Asia’s top eco-island destinations.”
As the host country, Malaysia also positioned itself as a key destination for business and Meetings Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE).
“PATA Travel Mart happening at a relatively newer destination like Langkawi opened up a lot of opportunities for the Indian market, especially for weddings and MICE. The competitively lower cost, availability of everything that Indians would require and the existence of a large overseas Indian community makes Malaysia a preferred choice for many travel agents and tour operators of India ”, elaborated Sanjeev Churiwalla, managing director of Nimbus Tours, a leading outbound tour operator from Kolkata.
OTOAI : Digitalisation, the Way forward
OTOAI, the first pan-India association formed to represent Indian outbound tour operators, held its yearly convention in Cape Town, South Africa.
“The world is getting smaller thanks to the new age technology and digitalisation. It is a very important part of the tourism industry and the time is right for all of us to understand how best we can leverage it to improve the ease of doing business with increased profitability” said Mahendra Vakharia, president of the OTOAI
Cape Town, which was recently in the spotlight with its looming water crisis, used social media to reassure tourists about the destination by sharing positive testimonies from travellers. “The convention has happened at a time when the country had a water crisis and we had a little fall in the numbers of tourists visiting the city. South Africa is maintaining its high standards of hospitality despite the water crisis and has acted as a great example of responsible tourism as well,” said Rakesh Bhandari, account director – India of Sun International, the leading hospitality group of South Africa.
The convention took place during the celebration of 100 years of Nelson Mandela in South Africa. “South Africa and India have always enjoyed a special relationship over the years. We have identified 100 sites in the country related to Nelson Mandela. We hope a large number of Indians will visit these places,” said Sisa Ntshona, the chief executive officer of South African Tourism.
ABU DHABI TAFI:
Emirate’s rich offering
The United Arab Emirates showcased the destination to about 480 delegates from India on the occasion of the Travel Agent Federation of India’s (TAFI) convention that took place in Abu Dhabi in October.
Saif Saeed Ghobash, under-secretary DCT; Sultan Al Mutawa Al Dhaheri, executive director DCT, Navdeep Singh Suri, ambassador of India to the UAE were present during the Inauguration ceremony along with delegates from TAFI and media.
“Choosing Abu Dhabi as the official host destination for this annual convention underlines the Emirate’s expanding reputation as a leading destination for hosting business events,” said Praveen Chugh, the president of TAFI.
“We recognise India as one of Abu Dhabi’s top overseas source markets, as it has recorded a remarkable upward trend over the last few years,” said Saif Saeed Ghobash, under-secretary, at the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi. The conference was followed by sightseeing tours around Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Dhafra regions where delegates had a chance to experience Abu Dhabi’s tourism offerings.
Bejan Dinshaw, country managerIndia, Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi concluded, “Our primary objective was to expose the destination to all the TAFI members to further promote the Emirate in India. The event will help in increasing the destination’s visibility in the Indian market, enhancing tourism to Abu Dhabi.”
Kenya beyond wildlife
T o reach its target of four million foreign tourists by 2023, Kenya Tourism promoted new destinations and experiences beyond Nairobi and Mombasa, at the Magical Kenya Travel Exhibition (MKTE) that took place in October in Nairobi.
In 2017, Kenya hosted 64,116 tourists from India, the third largest source market after the US and the UK. In comparison, Kenya received 53,485 Chinese tourists the same year.
” India is a very important market and Indians will feel at home in Kenya. We are promoting offbeat destinations and experiences because there is much more than safari and beach in Kenya. There are a lot of cultural activities too” said Najib Balala, Kenyan Minister of Tourism to India Outbound.
Kenya is already a trending destination amongst Indian travellers, many of whom travel for business. Also, the Kenyan society has an important Indian diaspora. Indian food and vegetarian food are easily available everywhere.
The MKTE is the first and largest tourism fair in East Africa. “The future of tourism is in Africa, we need political stability and support from the governments. We also need to improve our overall communication to end the general negativity that people have about Africa”, said Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO Secretary General who inaugurated the show. Nairobi also hosted for the first time the Africa Hotel Investments Forum (AHIF) with over 500 delegates and potential investors.
Ras Al Khaimah