Published on : Monday, March 19, 2018
K.J. Alphons, Indian Union Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, Culture, and Tourism in an exclusive interview with Travel And Tour World shares his plans to elevate the travel and tourism industry of India. He wants the world to visit and experience traditional philosophy and history of India along with adventure tourism. The Minister gave his insights on digital marketing and promotion of Indian tourism to the global audience.
ITB Berlin is the world’s leading travel and trade show connecting all the leaders of tourism industry providing vast network opportunities.
Travel And Tour World: How can India promote its adventure tourism to attract more millennial?
K.J. Alphons: We want to see people travel to India, have fun, and gather experiences which should last forever and they come back again. India has 70% of the Himalayan Mountain Region that stretches about 4000 kilometers, extending from Jammu and Kashmir to North East. We also have many states rich in adventure tourism – Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and many other states nurturing in the foothills of Himalayas. These states have vast tourism approach for adventurous activities like paragliding, trekking, freshwater river-rafting and hiking.
While on the contrary, we also have opportunities to enjoy the backwaters in South India- Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. There is also a possibility to enrich desert tourism in Rajasthan.
We don’t want to tell people to come and climb the mountains and go back. We want people to experience 5000 years old Indian history and philosophy, which are transformed into actual practices through yoga and ayurveda, which tell us “You and I are one”. People should experience here the wellness therapies. So we are combining the adventure tourism with the ancient thoughts of India, which is really a transformational one.
Travel And Tour World: How can India develop its potential for MICE Tourism?
K.J. Alphons: India has lots of destinations ideal for MICE tourism. First of all, India has a wide array of professionals and industries. We have some of the largest information technology companies, doctors, charter accountants and professional organizations. So, India can be an ideal destination for MICE.
Indian hotels are at par with others across the world. They are offering best amenities and delivering best services to the guests, which is quite challenging.
We are putting new hotels in India from luxury to economy. We are also taking care of the economy segment, so that who can’t afford the super luxury hotels can also come in and stay at economy hotels. We have an excellent infrastructure for MICE and are creating a lot more in India.
These locations are much cheaper than others with great attractions. So whoever comes for MICE obviously will stay much longer than other destinations, savouring India’s traditional knowledge, like the Ayurveda, yoga and others things.
Travel And Tour World: India has outlined plans to double its tourist arrival to 20 million by 2020? So what will be the strategy to achieve this?
K.J. Alphons: We have done well in 2017. Tourism in India has increased by 5% on a global basis. The foreign tourists’ arrival has grown by 15.6% and an increase of 20 and half percent in tourism revenue. So, we have done well in 2017 and am I happy with the numbers? No. I want to double the numbers and revenues in 3 years. It is possible because India is an incredible country. It has 5000 years of civilization with 8000 miles of sea coast, backwaters, deserts, tropical forests and mountains. We have everything. We have our philosophy which converted our lifestyles with yoga and wellness. So, if we put it all together, India has an extreme potential for tourism. In the past few months, we did specific promotions in regions very well to promote more tourism.
Travel And Tour World: What are the new innovations taken by the Tourism Ministry?
K.J. Alphons: Now we are all using social media in a big way because, we see that people today don’t go to a travel agent before going to a location. I think today at least 90% of people do research in social media before travelling to a place. So, we promote India in both social media and digital platform where tourism can be more exciting. We want people not only to come, but also to experience India, and have a transformational feel. So, we are doing effective social media marketing which includes excellent promotional shots and many videos to promote the different destinations of India.
Travel And Tour World: How do you feel about participating in ITB Berlin?
K.J. Alphons: I think ITB is one of the colourful and fantastic events with many audiences. We are happy that we have a large number of participants. For us, the promotion is not is not just for government, this participation is for all private ventures that we partnered now to increase the tourist numbers to India. It is good because we got a platform to deliver the message of India.