Wings to central India

Global Panorama Showcase expands its reach pan India with a strong focus on bringing Tier II and Tier III cities to the forefront By Mohit Rathod

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Global Panorama Showcase expands its reach pan India with a strong focus on bringing Tier II and Tier III cities to the forefront By Mohit Rathod

Global Panorama Showcase (GPS), a brainchild of Nagpur-based company, Jagsons Travels, recently concluded its fourth edition. Nagpur is considered as one of the emerging markets among the Tier II and Tier III segment. Increase in disposable income, the urge to explore world class destinations, and Qatar Airways’ recent launch of operations from Nagpur, are some of the drivers of growth in tourism activities in the region. With the theme ‘GPS on the move’, the travel trade platform will be marking its entry into four more cities for the first time – Coimbatore, Kolkata, Chandigarh and Ahmedabad.

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The event, held at Hotel Centre Point, was inaugurated by GPS co-founders, Harmandeep Singh Anand and Rishiraj Singh Anand; Jagjit Singh Anand, founder of Jagsons Travels; Gulshanpal Singh Anand, chairman of Jagsons Travels; Jatindra Nakade, chairman, TAAI (Travel Agents Association of India) Nagpur Chapter; Ajay Bhatnagar, Kirti Vyas, managing director of Vyas Travels, Raipur; Naresh Rawal, vice president, Star Cruises and Rajiv Duggal, CEO, Lavasa Corporation, among other dignitaries. Around 100 exhibitors and over 95 hosted buyers from Central India participated in the event. Raju Akolkar was announced as the CEO of GPS 2016 and the new logo of GPS was also unveiled.

The first day of the event focused on B2B interactions between buyers and exhibitors, along with presentations by Starwood Hotels, Tourism Malaysia, Singapore Tourism, Destination Canada and Philippines Tourism.

Focus on social initiatives

The major announcements at GPS 2016 were introduction of NGO tourism in and around Nagpur region and mine tourism. Caring Friends, a Nagpur-based NGO, intiated the concept of ‘Voluntourism’, where travellers to the Vidarbha district will be able to interact with local heroes who serve the society. Harmandeep also pointed out that five per cent of the total revenue generated from GPS 2016 will be contributed to NGOs.

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Mine tourism is already part of a discussion with Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) and may take another quarter to commence.Elaborating on mine tourism, Manohar Roy, who is a part of the discusion with MTDC, said, “It is a concept where we will take tourists to open-cast and underground mines in the Vidarbha region. We will co-ordinate with MTDC, Western Coalfields (WCL) and Manganese Ore India (MOIL). MOIL and WCL have 13 and 20 mines in the region respectively. The scope of this tourism product is enormous and will boost tourism in this
region.”

Growth potential

Talking about rebranding of GPS and presence in new cities, Harmandeep stated, “We are positioning ourselves as the premier travel trade interaction platform. In comparision with our previous events, this year’s GPS has got wings. Around 40 per cent of the exhibitors have participated for the first time in GPS 2016. Even in the case of repeat exhibitors, the partners are new. From July, we will move away from the brochure concept. We are encouraging tourism boards to adapt the idea of presentations, because presentations reach out to more people at a time. One of the domestic exhibitors had done business of Rs 12 lakh on the first day itself. The cruise segment is rapidly growing; people in smaller cities want to experience cruises, so GPS serves as a platform for Tier II and Tier III cities to get informed about the products that interest them. We are discontinuing the B2C interactions from 2017,” he added.

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GPS 2016 will be held in Coimbatore from July 14-15, followed by Kolkata (July 21-22), Chandigarh (July 28-29) and Ahmedabad (August 4-5).

Happy with the response to GPS this year, Harmandeep said, “The numbers have been overwhelming, so the growth potential is high. People came from all the eight districts in Vidarbha. We saw buyers from Amravati, Wardha, Chandrapur, Akola, Jabalpur, Latur, Satara, Nashik, Pune, Aurangabad, Indore, Bhopal and from across central India. Travel agents from Tier II and Tier III cities are working with big players in metro cities. By introducing them directly to the suppliers, we are removing the long middle chain which is not required in this industry.”

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Speaking on the Tier II and Tier III markets, he expressed, “Not just Nagpur, but all Tier II and Tier III markets are neglected, which is why we have decided to move to other cities also this year. We are not denying that agents are not there, but out of 500 of them, only 10-15 can afford to attend the top trade shows; there will be an imbalance in the industry. GPS is not a trade show, it is an interactive platform for the travel and tourism fraternity. Empowering and educating is its the first goal.”

Sharing the same views, Madhu Saliankar, director, EntReps Solutions, stated, “Information is available on the internet, but Tier II and Tier III cities are not driven by it. The agents still want a personalised approach. We are starting trade surveys in Coimbatore, Kolkata, Chandigarh and Amhedabad, so that GPS can serve these cities as efficiently as Nagpur.”

Intensive trade focus

The second day of the event consisted of B2B interactions and presentations by Jordan Tourism and Trawelltag. Harmandeep informed at the press conference that it is crucial to educate the travel fraternity of Tier II and Tier III cities and get them look beyond commissions, by making them aware about new tourism products and the business that can be generated around them.

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Dream Cruises, a premium cruise brand first announced in November, was promoted as a MICE preference. Expected to start her maiden voyage in mid-October this year from Germany, the cruise liner will stop by Mumbai in the beginning of November. On departure from Mumbai, the ship will visit Colombo, followed by Singapore andGuangzong, China. GPS will conduct a B2B interactive session onboard Dream Cruises in Mumbai.


Exhibitors’ speak

Cathydja Patel, sales representative, India market, Reunion Island Tourism Board, said, “This is the first time that we participated in GPS. It’s like an experiment for us. The response from buyers has been good. If all goes well, we will participate next year too.”

Paramjit Bawa, country manager – India, Destination NSW, said, “We have participated in GPS for the second time. Nagpur is an important market for us. Even if we wouldn’t have attended GPS, we would have done our own workshop here. We decided to participate in GPS, because the cross section of travel agents that come here is good. Many tourism boards focus just on the major cities, but we believe that there is a lot of people travelling from Tier II and Tier III cities such as Nagpur, Ludhiana, Rajkot, Surat, Coimbatore, Kochi, etc. What differentiates Nagpur from the other cities is the presence of a lot more disposable income, there’s money to be spent. We have also experienced that travellers from Nagpur want to have upper quality travel experience.”

Rajiv Duggal, CEO, Lavasa Corporation, said, “We have been participating in GPS since its inception. A huge difference in this year’s event is the quality of appointments. We met totally different buyers on day one and day two. That makes a lot of sense; we haven’t seen this in any other fair. We had around 540 buyers in just two days.”

Vikas Sharma, assistant vice-president – sales, travel trade, The Oberoi Group, said, “Our focus was to enhance our reach and distribution to this region and the objective has been met well. Number of buyers and responses are growing each year, which is why we participate at GPS every year. We met a lot of quality buyers and also did good business. Tier II and Tier III cities provide higher revenues, due to more business opportunities.”


Buyers’ speak

Mukesh Agrawal, owner of Lakshya Holidays in Gondia district of Maharashtra, commented, “I have been attending GPS since 2013. This is a good platform for tour operators from smaller cities. They can interact with big domestic players and international tourism boards, which was earlier possible only for the travel fraternity based in metro cities. I am glad that GPS has identified the growth potential from Tier II and Tier III cities.”

Madhuri Deo, owner of Nagpur-based Soma Travels and past chairperson of TAAI Nagpur Chapter, opined, “GPS is a great opportunity, not just for Nagpur, but for the entire Vidarbha region. This year’s event has seen more participants, there are numerous products. I appreciate the ideas of NGO tourism and mine tourism; they will definitely boost tourism in the region if they are conceptualised well.”

Somesh Bagdia, managing dirctor of Jalna-based Somesh Travco, said, “Travel agents from smaller cities find it tough to access major trade shows, but GPS is providing us a good opportunity to interact with tourism boards, DMCs, travel companies, etc. I have been coming to GPS since its beginning and this year too, I had lucrative interactions here.”

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