This week I spent some time in Bangalore meeting with our future PATA Travel Mart 2015 host to discuss the preparation for next year’s event. I had a chance to visit the BIEC Exhibition Centre, where our event will be hosted, and was very impressed by the facilities. It has a separate Conference centre just a few feet away from the exhibition hall that has nicely decorated VIP Rooms and a fully equipped Press Office. There is a separate food court and banquet hall on the side of the Exhibition hall, and several internationally renowned hotel brands are just 6 km away from the centre that can accommodate our visitors.
In a private meeting with the Honourable Minister for Higher Education and Tourism of Karnataka, Mr. R.V. Deshpande; Additional Chief Secretary of Tourism of Karnataka, Mr. Arvind Jadhav; and the supporting team from Stark Communications, we discussed the format of the event and new concepts and ideas that will make PTM 2015 a truly Incredible Indian experience. The Honorable Minister and his team are looking forward to welcoming tourism professionals from India and around the world to showcase everything that the state of Karnataka has to offer.
My visit to India then took me to New Delhi where our Chapter was celebrating its 40th Anniversary. I had the opportunity to join the Chapter Board meeting where I shared our plans, our 2015 activities, and the challenges and opportunities that our industry faces. I also had the honor of a private meeting with the newly appointed Honourable Secretary of Tourism of India, Mr. Lalit Panwar, and his team to understand his priorities during his term and how PATA can help. I was pleased to hear that our areas of interest are very similar; Human Capital Development, Youth and Sustainability will be at the centre of the activities lead by his team during his tenure. On my agenda was a discussion about Visa Facilitation and the importance of simplifying the application process to make it easier for people to visit his country. I wish I could claim that I was influential in the decision, however it was a pure coincidence that the next day an announcement was made that e-Visa will soon be implemented for several countries with others to follow at a later stage. This is excellent news and a huge step forward, and we are glad to know that this will be implemented prior to PATA hosting PTM 2015 in Bangalore.
My day carried on with several press interviews with questions about PATA, its future, the state of our industry, and more specifically about the prospects for tourism growth in India. A question that was raised by several journalists was regarding International Foreign Investment to build the necessary infrastructure to cope with the forecasted increase in tourism arrivals. I pointed out that in order for India to receive more foreign investment, it would need to look more closely at its policies, legal framework and taxation. Tourism is growing across the entire region and, given a choice, investors will go where the opportunity is the greatest, but also where risk is minimized. This will be the subject of an International Investment Forum organized alongside PTM 2015.
My Incredible India Experience ended with a social gathering of 75+ PATA Chapter members to celebrate 40 years of presence in India. The who’s who of the travel industry were in attendance and the evening started with a passionate address from the Honourable Secretary of Tourism of India, Mr. Panwar. I was very much encouraged by the enthusiasm of our chapter members and to see how pleased they were of having the PATA Travel Mart return to India, which they all look forward to joining. I would like to express a special word of thanks to Mr. Runeep Sangha, Executive Director, PATA India Chapter; his team and to the Chapter Executive committee for their hospitality and also for having organized this wonderful celebration.
Next week is our 3rd PATAcademy-HCD on the subject of “The Future of Tourism Technology” and I am pleased to report that the class is full. Till next time, I wish you all a pleasant and successful week ahead…
Chief Executive Officer