Travel and Tourism Fair (TTF), India’s oldest and one of the largest travel trade show network celebrated its 30th edition of TTF Kolkata this year from July 12-14 with 450+ exhibitors and a record turnout of 10,000 visitors.
This year the fair had 14 countries and 25 Indian states and union territories which had set up their pavilions to present themselves as the next travel destination for the Bengali tourists. Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal participated at the fair as partner countries while Thailand and Bahrain had joined as feature countries. Other countries which were represented in TTF Kolkata included Bhutan, China, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, South Africa, New Zealand and UAE. India Tourism also had a prominent presence at the show.
The show saw a large footfall of travel trade members on the first one and a half days reserved for trade and B2B interactions and an even larger number of travel-enthusiasts from Kolkata and its nearby places during the other one and a half days when the event was opened for them. B2B visitors came from as far as north Bengal as well as northeast Indian states, along with Odisha, Bihar and Jharkhand. The consumers had their best opportunity to plan their next vacation for the Durga Puja and Diwali holidays with great offers, discounts and packages specially curated for them!
Present at the inauguration were Toufique Hasan, deputy high commissioner of Bangladesh Deputy High Commission; Atri Bhattacharya, principal secretary, department of tourism, government of West Bengal; Sweeya Santipitaks, consul-general of the Royal Thai Consulate, Viranga Bandara, assistant director-marketing, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, Isra Stapanseth, director – New Delhi, Tourism Authority of Thailand, and other dignitaries.
The Indian states of West Bengal and Uttarakhand had the largest pavilions, followed by Odisha, Gujarat, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan who had set up their state pavilions along with their private tour and travel operators. Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Jharkhand, Lakshadweep, Tripura, Nagaland, Jammu & Kashmir and Karnataka had also set up their state pavilions to attract tourists to their states.
“TTF Kolkata is India’s oldest and one of the busiest travel trade shows in India. With the increasing importance of outbound and inbound potential in the East and Southeast Asia, it serves as a strategically important gateway for the industry. That is the reason it is a full house show every year since the last 29 years – a legacy that we are proud of,” remarked Sanjiv Agarwal, chairman and CEO of Fairfest Media, the organiser of TTF.
This year TTF Kolkata for the first time hosted the TTF Forum with a panel discussion on Exploring Travel & Tourism Opportunities Beyond Eastern India: How Bangladeshi Tourists Outnumbered European Travellers to India. The Forum moderated by India Outbound Magazine of Media India Group had speakers from prominent destination management companies from Bangladesh— Taufiq Rahman, chief executive, Journey Plus; Syed Shafat Uddin Ahmed, managing director, Market N-Trance and Md Mohiuddin Helal, CEO, River and Green Tours. Bangladesh topped Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in 2017, with a footfall of 21,56,557 tourists. On the other hand, Bangladesh also receives a majority of international tourists from India, largely from West Bengal.
Toufique Hasan, the deputy high commissioner at Bangladesh Deputy High Commission in Kolkata told Media India Group, “The participation of Bangladesh in TTF Kolkata has always been very important and I have seen the quality of tourism exchange that happens at the floor of Bangladesh pavilion and in other booths as well. The overall upbeat mood of tourism promotion looks very promising and I am pleased to attend it for the second time. The focussed discussion at TTF Forum only indicates the importance of both the markets to each other.”
The Amazing Thailand booth attracted visitors with exciting packages offered by agents and the official carrier Thai Airways. “Kolkata is a big market for us and we always get an excellent response from TTF Kolkata. Every year Thailand Tourism pavilion gets more crowd and we are extremely happy to get what we look for,” Isra Stapanseth, director – New Delhi, Tourism Authority of Thailand expressed to Media India Group.
Sri Lankan Tourism in association with SriLankan Airlines is aggressively promoting their packages and discounted offers exclusively for the Indian market. “TTF Kolkata this year was good as the footfalls are going up and also we have had quality meetings and even operators are having better networking opportunities. We are also happy to promote the special packages and are expecting a larger number of tourists from this part due to great connectivity and even greater offers for the period between June-September,” said Viranga Bandara, assistant director-marketing, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau to Media India Group.
Rajasthan Tourism conducted a roadshow where Daleep Singh Rathore, deputy director at Rajasthan Tourism, presented the state’s special offers and tour packages curated for the tourists. Principal secretary of the department of tourism, art and culture of government of Rajasthan, Sreya Guha also attended the fair on the last day and exchanged ideas and opinions with exhibitors while walking the show.
Another sideline event was organised by Gujarat Tourism at the Oberoi Grand Hotel where Jawahar Chavda, the minister of tourism and fisheries industry of the government of Gujarat and Jenu Devan, commissioner of tourism and managing director, Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited made presentations in front of a large audience especially promoting the newly-constructed Statue of Unity as a destination.
“Apart from the neighbouring states such as Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal is very important for Gujarat Tourism as over 700,000 visitors travel to the western state every year,” said the Gujarat tourism minister.
The travel trade fraternity of Kolkata and eastern India was active in TTF in full swing through top-level associations like Skal International, IATO, ADTOI, TAAI and others.
Skal International Kolkata president Sanjeev Mehra said, “Our members are now actively participating in making the most out of floor networking for the businesses and we are getting very good feedback that they did good business.”
R Sushila, the executive director of Vivada Cruises, a cruise company popular for its cruise itineraries on the river Ganges said, “I’ve been participating in TTF for last the two decades and have seen this fair grow from a very small beginning to this proposition. The number of qualified buyers is increasing every year and it is a good sign for the industry.”
“The success of any such event largely depends on the return of investment (ROI) of the sellers. This year there is a significant focus by Fairfest Media to attract more buyers and industry stakeholders to the event and the sellers who have invested this year have got much more prospective customers in terms of B2B transactions and more networking opportunities too. It justified all the interest of the participating sellers which is appreciable and determines the success of an event,” IATO West Bengal chapter chairman Debjit Dutta concluded.