The last two years have been extremely challenging for the Outbound sector. How severely has that affected the representation business in India?
Yes indeed, I think we have all as an industry faced the effects of the pandemic. However, it taught us the importance of adaptability and being able to be resourceful even within the limitations that were presented. We used technology to further digitise our approaches and streamline our activities. It included connecting with the travel trade by conducting destination training programs, webinars, and online workshops to enhance knowledge about their product and offerings. And with the effects of the pandemic ebbing away and the world opening up to travel again, it has paved the way for offline events and other such activities to stimulate the growth of the industry back up again.
India is set to be amongst the top outbound markets in the future. In your opinion, how high on priority is India as an inbound market for foreign destinations?
I believe as a tourism powerhouse, India is a key source market for several destinations given its tremendous potential and therefore cannot be downplayed. We have already started seeing improvement in outbound tourism from India. A surge in destination campaigns specifically tailor-made by tourism boards to entice the discerning Indian traveller is an endorsement of this thought. With the pandemic weighing heavy on everyone’s minds the desire to travel has only increased. There is now a shift in approach to the pandemic, as the world starts to accept and adapt. Tour operators and travel agents have their hands full at the moment with enquiries and bookings, especially for the ongoing summer season.
Can you share details of the destinations you represent currently?
We pride ourselves in the strong relationships we have built over a period of time within the travel and tourism fraternity. We are currently representing the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Tourism Seychelles, Japan National Tourism Organization, and Qatar Tourism.
I share a longstanding association with some brands. I have been representing the Tourism Authority of Thailand since 2013 till date. Prior to our appointment, the destination was already present in the Indian market for close to a decade. Therefore, the task was to raise awareness of Thailand as a tourism destination, showcasing its unique selling points and attractions to a wider audience in India.
Tourism Seychelles is another country I have worked with since 2013 and continue to do so. With Seychelles, primarily our task has been to elevate its brand presence and create awareness amongst significant agents, travel partners, media, and end consumers, and to also showcase Seychelles as a premium honeymoon destination in the Indian Ocean.
Even with Qatar, we have been promoting the country through various promotional activities, including sales visits, destination training, familiarization trips, MICE seminars, and joint promotions with trade partners. The country is also gearing up to host one of the biggest sporting events in the world – FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, we are thrilled to further promote it to not just football fans but also those that are seeking an experience to remember. We are hoping to position Qatar in a way that brings forth its multi-faceted charm.
Since 2019, we have been promoting Japan as a year-round destination whilst increasing the awareness quotient of the travel trade. Over these last two years, we have been actively keeping the visitors engaged with memories of Japan alive through digitized strategies, newsletters, and campaigns. We are eagerly looking forward to the opening of the border again and have relevant strategies in the pipeline.
Has Covid made foreign travel more challenging?
It has definitely brought in its challenges; however, it has allowed us to adapt to a new normal. The broader challenge though has seemed to be borders opening up and facilitating travel. Of course, one has to research and understand what Covid related restrictions and policies may or may not be imposed and be relevant for their travels.
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