With an aim to chart the roadmap on how technology and its applications can be used to maximise the potential of travel and tourism industry, a conference on travel and tourism ‘Incredible India 2.0: The Next Trillion-Dollar Opportunity’ was organised by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) at The Lalit Hotel, New Delhi on March 13, 2018. The conference witnessed the congregation of members from travel and tourism fraternity, delegates who were a part of various panel discussions that were held during the event.
According to the agenda of the conference by IAMAI, the tourism sector in India generated Rs 14.02 lakh crore ( US$220 billion) or 9.6 percent of nation’s GDP in 2016 thereby creating 40.343 million jobs or 9.3 percent of country’s total employment. This sector is predicted to grow at an annual rate of 6.8 percent to Rs 28.49 lakh crore (US$450 billion) by 2027 contributing to 10 percent of India’s GDP. Also, over 10 million foreign tourists arrived in in India in 2017 compared to 8.89 million in 2016, registering a growth of 15.6 percent. The tourism ministry aims to double foreign tourists arrivals to over 20 million and double foreign exchange earnings to US$52 billion by 2020.
The inaugural address was delivered by Deep Kalra, chairman & group CEO, makemytrip.com and vice-chairman, IAMAI. Highlighting the stronghold of the online tourism industry, he said, “Online tourism industry is evolving at a faster pace as compared to previous years. With the growth of tourist inflow, the industry has become one of the main sectors to increase in manifolds growth vis–a–vis other sectors. With the evolution of tech-enabled startups and newer concepts like a staycation, adventure tourism, ecotourism, medical tourism and pilgrimage tourism across the country the industry is on the cusp of potential growth. As more and more people come online, smartphone penetration increases, technological disruptions and use of digital payments has actually changed the dynamics of the industry at large. At present this industry is standing at 2.O knocking the 3.O for the next level to kick off.”
He also emphasised on leveraging technology for the convenience of customers and stated that the future lies in technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and requested the tech and travel fraternity to make the most of such technologies as they will shape the future of travel and tourism industry in India. He also stated examples of how chatbots are assisting customers to book online tickets. “India is the largest growing market of civil aviation and it will be the second fastest growing market for outbound travel, which means Indians have money and they want to travel. The only way we can achieve this is by integrating technology that will provide a seamless experience to the customers,” added Kalra.
Also, panel discussions were held after the inaugural address. Different issues and questions addressing travel and tourism infrastructure, new technologies and industry collaboration were raised. Each panel consisted of office bearers and representatives from different online travel agencies, hospitality industry and tech industry who provided solutions to the questions being put up during the discussion.
By Shivasheesh Srivastava