“First ever IATO convention in Chennai will do a lot of good for TN tourism”

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Updated: September 13, 2016 2:58 PM

Pandian K, chairman, IATO Andaman & Nicobar, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry Chapter, believes that the IATO Convention will help change the impression of Tamil Nadu, the host state, as being only a temple destination. By Reema Lokesh

Pandian K, chairman, IATO Andaman & Nicobar, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry Chapter, believes that the IATO Convention will help change the impression of Tamil Nadu, the host state, as being only a temple destination. By Reema Lokesh

Tamil Nadu is totally undersold. As the chapter chairman, what is it that you would like to achieve for the state through the forthcoming convention?

201609etw16Pandian K

Tamil Nadu has some of the most remarkable temple architecture in the country, and a living tradition of music, dance, folk arts and fine arts. The state is well renowned for its temple towns and heritage sites, hill stations, waterfalls, national parks, local cuisine and the fabulous wildlife and scenic beauty. Tamil Nadu claims to enjoy an annual growth rate of 16 per cent in the tourism sector. As per the statistics, in 2014, the number of foreign arrivals amounted to 4.65 million, the highest in the country and domestic arrivals was 327.6 million, making it the most popular state for tourism in the country. However, despite having diverse destinations and products, Tamil Nadu still remains  an undersold destination.

Through this convention, I would like to showcase to the travel fraternity that while Tamil Nadu’s temples are undeniably its major attraction, there are other treasures like the hill stations of Kodaikanal and Ooty in the west of the state and the tea and coffee plantation experiences. One can also spot wildlife in the teak forests of Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary and there are bird sanctuaries, national parks and some interesting waterfall spots. Rameshwaram is gaining momentum for water sports and adventure activities, Chettinad offers an excellent opportunity to promote rural tourism, for those who can appreciate and enjoy the ecosystem.

What will be the highlight of this year’s convention?

IATO is coming to Chennai, Tamil Nadu for the first time in its history, which itself is the highlight of this year.

Is there a certain take home that you wish for the delegates and the members to derive from the convention?

The way I see it today, people are ready to spend to explore new places for leisure. But today’s traveller is very selective in choosing the destinations. Existing travel destinations no longer fascinate him. Moreover, with the advent of internet, the urge to visit new places and to experience the life and culture there has increased. So without introducing innovative travel products we cannot add value to any travel product. Now the new segment that is gaining momentum is niche travel. Tamil Nadu has the right mix to present itself as a niche tourism destination. The responsibility is on the stakeholders of the tourism industry to develop and design something unique which is out-of-the-box. I request all the delegates to come with an open mind, witness the state’s richness in a broader perspective, realise the opportunities and benefits of tapping niche travel segments in Tamil Nadu and start promoting the state accordingly.

Since IATO is more inbound in nature, is there a  plan to strengthen India inbound tourism traffic to TN?

Yes IATO is Inbound. However IATO has state chapters that can concentrate exclusively on their respective states. Likewise, for Tamil Nadu, we have a Chapter consisting of its members. We all meet at regular intervals, discuss about developments and strategy to handle industry challenges etc. We also coordinate with our state government, conduct meetings and participate in all initiatives taken by the government in promoting state tourism. We are slowly trying to bring in PPT (Public Private Partnership) to promote Tamil Nadu in a better way. This would definitely strengthen state tourism in all aspects.

How did you succeed in bringing the convention to TN?

I owe my sincere thanks to the Executive Committee (EC) of IATO as this wouldn’t have been possible without their support. I have been trying to make Tamil Nadu as the venue of  the IATO Convention for the last three years,  which didn’t work due to many reasons, but finally this is a dream come true for me as well as the EC.

Is there a message you wish to share for the tourism fraternity in general?

Yes, I firmly feel this convention will change the perception of all stakeholders about Tamil Nadu that it has only temples. Tamil Nadu has many other treasures that remain unexplored. I am sure they would be able to realise the potential of the state during the convention, during the business sessions etc, which they never knew even existed in Tamil Nadu.

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