Technological intervention has impacted the tourism sector considerably in India and it is right time for the stakeholders to leverage their potential to boost the businesses, Ministry of Tourism Joint Secretary Suman Billa said.
“In India, there is probably no other sector that is getting as much impacted as the tourism sector due to proliferation of technology. It is important for government stakeholders to adapt and become sensitive towards these changes,” Mr Billa said at an event here on Thursday.
Highlighting the cross-sectional perspectives from the Aviation, Tourism, and IT & Technology sectors of the country, the event ICONIC-2018, was organized by Red Hat Communications.
Speaking at the conference, Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani said that the Indian Railways was investing hugely in “technology for passenger security and convenience” by introducing new-age automatic door closers, fire sensors, entertainment systems inside trains, and smart card ticketing.
“While the ‘personal touch’ cannot be ushered by technology, it can be used as a tool for passengers to enhance their experience,” he added.
Delivering the welcome speech, Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) Secretary General Jyoti Mayal said, “We at TAAI, as an industry association wish to work closely with the Ministry of Civil Aviation and other stakeholders to draft the guidelines for better policies and governance for the future. In terms of GST implementation, we want a proper document draft to set the right processes in place. We also request the government to give us a deemed export industry status for foreign exchange earnings from travel trade, and demand exemption of GST for outbound tour and travels services from India.”
Ministry of Civil Aviation Economic Advisor Vandana Agarwal said that her Ministry is committed to make the general passenger experience smoother and robust, while constantly adding value to capacity building and profitability of airline companies.
“We are making the passenger experience easier by removing regulations and/or associated costs attached with any of the regulations,” said Ms. Agarwal.
Participating in the discussion, Vistara Airlines Chief Strategy & Commercial Officer Sanjiv Kapoor said, “In recent times, we have a growing temptation to regulate the airline business much more than any other. I am in favour of regulation as it is a constant to safety and security of passengers. At the same time, if we need to build truly global aviation hubs and attract more domestic flyers, we must add massively to existing airport infrastructure and capabilities.”
Mr. Aloke Bajpai, CEO, Indigo also spoke about the urgent need seen for better airport infrastructure development and facilities like “valet parking” at our country’s urban airports. Other aviation industry stalwarts stressed on the aspects of manpower and in-house infrastructure in order to better serve passenger needs and maintain profitability of airlines.
Two panel discussions were held on the day successively on “Technology and Tourism: Boon or Bane” and “Aviation: Challenges for Growth or Decline”. Among other noted personalities who spoke included Mr. Kapil Kaul, Director South Asia & Middle East, CAPA Centre For Aviation; Mr. Ashish Kumar, Managining Director, Agnitia Consulting; Mr. Dipak Deva, Managing Director, Travel Corporation India Ltd; Mr. Rakshit Desai, Managing Director, FCM Travel Solutions India; Mr. Sandeep Dwivedi, Chief Operating Officer, InterGlobe Technology Quotient Pvt. Ltd; Mr. Gilbert George, VP-Sales, Jet Airways India Ltd; Mr. Wolfgang Will, Director- South Asia, Lufthansa German Airlines; Mr. Suresh Nair, General Manager-India, AirAsia Group and Mr. Sanjay Kumar, Former COO, IndiGo Airlines.
The event acted as a melting pot of ideas, deliberating on the myriad operational, technology integration, and governance-related challenges for the tourism and aviation sectors of India. The way forward for better functioning and uninterrupted growth of these industry sectors was highlighted through the dialogue.