Business Traveller India speaks to K.J. Alphons, Minster of State for Tourism, India with regards to the country’s travel industry
How well is Indian Tourism doing in 2018, with regards to business travel and leisure?
In terms of number, last year we grew 15.6 per cent more than the previous year. In terms of revenue, compared to last year we are up by 20.5 per cent. In my opinion, we have beaten the general world pace. We hope to do much much better!
Do you think you have got enough depth in the hospitality industry in India?
Most of the hotels which we have are in the luxury segment. We are missing out the piece on this US$100 per night model segment, which is typical business travel. We are working with the states to make land available exclusively for the purpose of building these hotels. We’re also constantly looking for ways and means to provide incentives for them to come and do business here. One possibility is ensuring that the land comes at an affordable cost so the room tariffs can be affordable. We’re working on such options.
And facilities for MICE groups?
In Delhi, just next to the airport we are building a convention centre that can seat 5,000 people with ten hotels around. Another 5,000 seater auditorium convention centre is being built at Delhi’s traditional exhibition area Pragati Maidan. There will be a lot of hotels around there as well. We already have world class infrastructure in cities like Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai.
The challenge for us is going to be able send the message across to companies abroad and invite more delegates to visit India.
And how do you get the message to the world that things are improving?
We have India Convention Promotion Bureau that has been tasked to bid and get more conferences to India. Secondly, we are focusing on specialised MICE properties. We are restructuring our work fundamentally; Indian Convention Promotion Bureau is the national body, but there will soon be state chapters at local levels so that it becomes a robust mechanism.
For the next 12-18 moths what are the plans to encourage business tourism?
It’s important to note that the US is our number one source destination for business travel. Having come so far, they also take time off for leisure. Most of the people who travel from Europe come for leisure trips. The Make In India initiative is also inviting a lot of investment in the tourism sector.
How are we doing with the airport infrastructure?
Our airports in Bengaluru, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai are of world class quality with amazing infrastructure. Out of 50 airports in India, 20 are international airports. We want to either upgrade or develop around 150 more airports in the next five years. By 2020 we are projected to become the third largest aviation market in the world. We have opened out the rural areas in the really backward regions of the country by giving license to 363 persons to operate flights right up to the village level. I think these are fantastic moments.