india outbound summit r e v i e w 9 t h j u n e 2 0 1 7
2 r e v i e w r e v i e w outbound summit breaks new ground for industry verticals kenji hiramatsu patrick santillo andrew caruana galizia deepak joshi subhash goyal pankaj kumar wolfgang will ratna chadha harvinder singh david lim yasua taki suresh nair karan anand sulaiman suip carl vaz hanneli slabber nikhil dhodhapkar raja natesan yeishan goel bitb continued its drive to bring senior leadership on what is trending at industry conclaves. this time, the focus was on the india outbound, a ﬁrst-time summit that brought convergence of leadership across diverse verticals of the outbound tourism industry. the summit was attended by industry consisting of agents, airlines, hotels, ntos and diplomats. japanese ambassador to india h.e kenji hiramatsu delivered the keynote address, with a session on governments, chaired by suhash goyal, chairman, stic group featuring, among others, andrew caruana galizia, deputy head of mission, embassy of malta and patrick santillo, minister counsellor for commercial affairs, usa. in another session titled “trends in indian outbound air travel”, examining the churning in the aviation industry and several prominent aviation industry insiders, including wolfgang will, senior director, lufthansa – south asia; pankaj kumar, ed, air india; suresh nair, country head, air asia, harvinder singh, country head, united airlines and david lim, country manager, singapore airlines, among others shared their insight on the aviation market. larger trends emanating in the indian marketplace were put under the scanner in the session titled “trends in the indian marketplace’’. spokespersons representing a gamut of verticals – cruise, luxury, dmcs, and travel company – gave a bird’s eye view of the challenges and opportunities in the marketplace. in another keynote, nepal tourism’s ceo deepak joshi spoke on “perspective for regional tourism”, batting for integration of communities and region through tourism. in his inaugural address at the india outbound summit, navin berry, executive director, bitb spoke on the fragmentation in the outbound segment and how the first of its kind conclave was an attempt to address that anomaly. excerpts from his speech: his excellency ambassador of japan in india, diplomats, industry stalwarts, heads of ntos and friends, thank you for being with us here. just to give a short recap to what bitb conclave is all about, and also the mission before us, some of you may be aware that i took a little long sabbatical of ﬁve to six years from the busi- ness of tourism industry shows, and we came back last october with the ﬁrst edition of bitb – bharat international tourism bazaar. the idea was to have a bazaar focussed on tourism, international in nature, but steeped in bharat. most of you would know that bharat is the more ethnic name for india. so, bitb comes from bharat international tourism bazaar. we thought we are going to do something different than what we have done earlier and what the trend is in the marketplace, so we focussed on 2-3 different areas. one was to focus on tourism and take a serious look at what tourism is all about, between agents and hotels, between suppliers and producers, between governments – between themselves – ntos, state governments and others. so, that is a serious look at tourism per se. second, was to look at power conclaves, where last year in october we navin berry executive director, bitb we partnered with intach, a leading ngo to talk about heritage tour- ism and how tourism and heritage are, really, two sides of the same coin. continuing the same mission of bitb conclaves, we ran an india tourism summit this march – which again was the ﬁrst of its kind. we had very pio- neering sessions, if i may say so myself. we had one session called “joining the dots in government” where we said that every ministry in the central government is doing something or the other about tourism, but they are not connecting each other. so, we brought eight ministries to say, how can we join the dots. how can we bring a connect? you are doing infrastructural de- velopment; you are promoting cultural destinations, improving monuments, but not connecting them all to the ‘t’ word, which is tourism. again now, this india outbound summit, conceived on a very modest assumption, because i think it is the ﬁrst of its kind. outbound is a major area. we are talking, approximately, over 20 million indian outbound. our outbound is growing more than the inbound. of course, our domes- tic is also growing signiﬁcantly. our air movements last year were almost a 100 million. so, we are talking about really rapid jumps. ran six power conclaves and all of them, if i may say so, were possibly ﬁrst of their kind in the country. we partnered with dipp – which is the department of industrial policy and promo- tion in the ministry of commerce. as you know, we have a ‘make in india’ as a concept across the country. so, we engineered to talk about ‘make in india in tourism’ and dipp promoted and partnered the event. we had brought in one of the biggest technology players last year, in the area of online travel and technology, namely phocuswright – and phocuswright did a conclave with us last year. with that in mind, the idea was that the outbound sector remains largely, to my mind, frag- mented because i think there is also a fear of cartelization amongst foreign companies. so, people do not want to be seen together, debating trends and strategies. possibly, everybody is doing their own thing and not getting together. today’s agenda is simply to give some coherence to what is happening in the outbound space. with these few words, i would like to welcome each one of you again and thank you for your support in making this event happen.
r e v i e w r e v i e w 3 japan will expand outreach in india with increased cultural and tourism events in his keynote address titled “tourism as a two-way business for mutual economic and social cooperation” to a packed house of industry leaders, his excellency kenji hiramatsu underscored the importance of tourism in driving cultural, political and diplomatic ties between the two nations. he expressed hope that with more direct air-connectivity between indian and japanese airports and pronounced outreach in the indian market, aided by more cultural and tourism events, larger numbers of indians will find japan as a desirable tourist destination. excerpts from his address. tourism destination by indian travellers, but japan certainly comes as one of the most popular tourism destinations in the world. in fact, the number of tourists to japan has been steadily rising in the last few decades, and last year we received a total of 24 million visi- tors to japan – which amounts to an increase of 21% in comparison to the previous year – out of which more than 21 million were tourists. furthermore, popular and attractive tourist cities, such as tokyo and kyoto have always enjoyed high ranking as desirable cities to live and visit in the world’s renowned magazines and newspapers. japan: a unique land with diverse experiences japan offers a vast array of unique and di- verse geographical and cultural experiences in a compact territory. the distinct change of four seasons over here inﬂuences japanese aesthetics and sensibilities, and this perme- ates all the layers of japan’s life. from the appreciation of nature, most famously, the a foreign country, but you may also learn a new way of seeing and perceiving life. like- wise, when japanese people visit india, they come in contact with the indian culture in direct and candid manner, and these experi- ences are what make travel and tourism such an attractive industry and a two-way business for mutual economic and social cooperation. direct air-connectivity between airports will improve numbers having said that, i believe there is still much to do to enhance awareness of japan as a tourist destination among the people of india. therefore, the japanese government is now planning to expand tourist promotion of japan through television, social media and movies. especially 2017 is dedicated as the india-japan friendly exchanges, and the embassy of japan is organising many cultural and tourism events. i hope indian people will enjoy many aspects of the japanese culture, throughout india this year. i also think that it is necessary to expand beside the economic aspect, the strategic importance of japan-india relationship has been certainly becoming more and more relevant in the past few years. on the other hand, actual people-to-people interaction between japan and india through tourism has not been as active as we would have expected. his excellency kenji hiramatsu japanese ambassador by shashank shekhar there is plenty of room for growth in travel and tourism “first of all, i would like to offer my congratulations to all of you on the opening of this india outbound summit. india is one of the fastest growing travel markets in the world. india achieved the milestone of 10 million outbound travellers, for the ﬁrst time, in 2008 – and reached the level of more than 20 million outbound travellers in 2015. united nation’s tourism organisation, unwto pro- ject predicts that india will account for more than 50 million outbound by 2020. tourism is an extremely signiﬁcant indus- try. regardless of the purpose of visit, whether it is for business, or sight-seeing, tourism creates positive economic activities, connect- ing people and enhancing political, cultural and social understanding in each country. japan and india have enjoyed strong cultural ties since ancient times. in recent years, the co-operation between japan and india has been rapidly developing in many ﬁelds, such as manufacturing industries and major infra- structure projects like mumbai-ahmedabad high speed rail project and dedicated freight corridor project between mumbai and delhi. beside the economic aspect, the strategic importance of japan-india relationship has been certainly becoming more and more relevant in the past few years. on the other hand, actual people-to-people interaction between japan and india through tourism has not been as active as we would have ex- pected. the total number of visitors to japan from india was 1,23,000 in 2016, and out of these visitors, only 49,700 were tourists. i ﬁrmly believe that there is plenty of room for expansion in travel and tourism between japan and india, considering the strong diplomatic and business relation- ships between the two countries. japan may yet not be perceived as a very well-known cherry blossoms in spring, to architecture, design, art, fashion and cuisine. japan’s dis- tinct geography and culture has something for everybody. a list of japan’s unique and special features is known, but if you allow me, i would like to highlight a few. we have snow-capped volcanoes, like, representative, mt. fuji; lush tropical reefs and beautiful beach in okinawa; the hustle and bustle of mega cities like tokyo which is one of the most populous metropolis; aes- thetic zen garden in kyoto – japan’s cultural capital for thousand years; sad memories in hiroshima; buddhist temples, colourful summers and autumn festivals, folk villages, high-speed trains, and many more. wherever our visitors come to japan, they can experience a particular japanese way of life. japan has an advanced society where tradition blends with modernity, in a manner that has no parallel with any other country in the world. this is the reason why japan is not only an interesting tourism destination as the civil aviation network between japan and india. currently, japan airlines and all nippon airways operates 21 ﬂights weekly and air india operates 7 ﬂights a week. although, there are direct ﬂights from delhi and mumbai to japan, passengers from major metropolitan cities, such as bengaluru, hyderabad, chennai and kolkata mostly use in-direct ﬂights to japan via singapore, bangkok and kuala lumpur. i expect drastic improvement in air-connectivity between ma- jor airports in india and japan, creating more air trafﬁc options between the two countries. i am delighted to be here with inﬂuential leaders in the indian tourism industry to have a serious discussion on the indian outbound tourism market and i wish to express my sincere gratitude to all the people who are working for this very important summit. i strongly believe that this summit will be a signiﬁcant step forward in indian tourism, leading to a much higher level of japan-india tourism exchange.”
4 r e v i e w r e v i e w joint promotion of experiences will muscle up regional tourism: nepal tourism ceo the south asian region, despite home to some of the most unique products and experiences, has failed to attract tourists in numbers it ought to have. the way forward is a cumulative strategy of promotion of destinations, in a joint effort, by nations involved in the fray, suggests deepak joshi, ceo, nepal tourism. excerpts from his keynote address on “perspective for regional tourism”. by tf bureau “we all know that tourism is one of the few sectors in the world which is ever-increasing, in terms of numbers and employment creation. so, in that term we are going through a very strong context. last year, we know that our number crossed a billion, globally. over 1.2 billion travellers visited all over the world in 2015 it- self – which means one in every sixth person, on an average, is a tourist. i think that ratio is coming down every day. i would like to share some talk my friend shared some 6-7 days ago. he was telling me that kids are becom- ing independent traveller now, because 50-60 years ago our schools used to be typical schools only. kids used to take food from home and study in the school. some 20 years ago, schools started boarding facility and then serving food – and schools ventured into a new business; we can call it accommo- dation and restaurant also. now, students are taking foreign internships in these schools, so schools are now in to the tour business, as well. so, i mean everyone is going to become a tourist. that is the future and we have to be prepared for that. another issue, when we talk about the region is that no other region has that kind of potential, looking at the products that we have. we all are experienced people and therefore, i would not like to explain these. being the himalaya region, there are over 14 peaks with height of over 8,000 meters in the world, and all of those are in this region – in the south asian region. not only that, thousands of languages are spoken in this region. when we talk about nepal, for instance, the lowest point of earth is at 50 meters and highest is at 8848 metres, and that is just between 100 kilometres of distance. that kind of diversity, i think, we can hardly get anywhere in the world. such is the product strength that we have. another thing in the business that we are told is that there must be a market for the product. we do have such a market and an emerging economy, all of it is there. timing is right, too. so, product, timing and market, all of it is perfect in this region. despite hav- ing so much of strength and good timing, we have not been able to reap the beneﬁts that our destinations deserve, or the kind of expectations that we have in this region. may be, it is because we are ignoring the changing trends in the world, what we very rightly discussed. in this part of the world, we take more time in discussing, rather than understanding things and changes in trends. so, i think, in this region, we need to focus seriously on what the changes are and how we can address them. there are many things that are changing in my observation. from 1960s to 2010, there was a particular trend in tourism – ﬁxed itineraries, packages – but since the last 6-7 years, it has really changed. i think we have already realised that fact. earlier, segment wise, we talked of new segments, millennials, who are digitally connected more than ever. we are phono-sapiens more than homo- sapiens. there have been changes on the product side, too. earlier, we used to debate on otas vs. tour operators. these days, yes, custom- ers are looking for customised packages, rather than traditional packages. they are going for, for instance in kathmandu, we have kathmandu-pokhra-chitwan triangle, and in india, too, we have the golden triangle, but now tourists, instead of opting of the red fort are going for streets in old delhi. so, that kind of openness is also there, in terms of queries. i believe it is an opportunity of us, but we need to understand what kind of trends are there for us. there is also a change in the trend of looking for local destinations. earlier, people used to look for very sophisticated destinations, but now we can see, in malaysia, cambodia and sri lanka, rapid growth of tourism, because tourists are looking for very undiscovered places where their parents or friends have not been to. earlier, the industry used to look for com- fort and luxury, but now, people are looking for experiences, and the strength of product that we have in this region is the future of tourism. that is a perfect match, that is why i was highlighting the perfect timing. this is the land where thousands of au- thentic stories are. so, these are these things that when we talk about regional tourism per- spective. i would also like to highlight some of the issues pertaining to regional tourism. we are very connected countries and yet disconnected when it comes to selling our products jointly. everything is becoming easy these days. hotel booking, travel and ticket booking, but people are looking for easy travel in terms of getting visas or cross-border entries. when we talk about regional tourism, we must look at jointly lobbying for these kinds of things. another change in the trend is that 200-300 years ago, our political governance and leadership used to be of religious in nature. after that, we experienced military leadership all over the world, followed by democratic leadership, but now we are seeing everywhere the growth of business leadership. so, for sustainable development of tourism, we have to look at the balance a thing about tourism is that while other manufacturing segments and ,, industries dislocate communities, tourism industry, probably, is the only industry which interlinks and integrates communities. where tourism integrates communities, why cannot it integrate a region? so, i would like to request all of my friends in our fraternity to work jointly for this. deepak joshi ceo, nepal tourism if we can do a few things, moving ahead, we can see positive result in tourism in this region. we need not create many new products, because there is so much here already, but we need to curate, communicate and collaborate more. i would like to request all to go together, grow together and gain together. of bringing our religious and spiritual values into our business values. if we can do a few things, moving ahead, we can see positive result in tourism in this region. we need not create many new prod- ucts, because there is so much here already, but we need to curate, communicate and collaborate more. we, very recently, organised the hima- layan travel mart, presenting nepal as a gateway to the himalayas. like navin ji is organising very soon, bitb, and other travel fairs…may be, different regions can curate different kinds of activities. may be, there could be a yoga travel mart, or something like that. so, more such kinds of events can beneﬁt this region. a thing about tourism is that while other manufacturing segments and industries dislocate communities, tourism industry, probably, is the only industry which inter- links and integrates communities. where tourism integrates communities, why cannot it integrate a region? so, i would like to request all of my friends in our fraternity to work jointly for this. earlier, we discussed about common visas in african countries, or other regions. it is something that we can also develop, because sometimes i feel that we have undermined our brand-value, in terms of our destinations. for example, ne- pal, bhutan, tibet, and some of the regions of india have a very strong brand-value. we should capitalise on these, rather than undermining them. at last, i would like to request all to go together, grow together and gain together. tourism is ours and we are for tourism.”
r e v i e w r e v i e w 5 government and tourism bodies need to come together to tap the outbound segment it was a session equally represented by the top echelons of government representatives and tourism industry professionals who deliberated, at length, on the intricacies of the indian outbound. one of the most important outcomes of the discussion was that the tourism industry needed to consolidate, come together and create viable outreach strategies to make the most of the opportunity at hand. indian market is one of the best opportunity for international tourism industry: subhash goyal, chairman, stic group indian outbound is one of the best shoppers, highest spenders india is one of the fastest growing outbound markets in the world with more than 20 million indians travelling all over the world. the point is that it is not just the twenty million, but they are the largest spenders. no other nationals of any country are spending so much as indian nationals. according to the singapore tourism board, they are the number one shoppers in singapore. they are the number one shoppers in malaysia; they are the number one shoppers in switzerland. in thailand, we are on the second position, because there are some 38,000 japanese who live in thailand, so even if they buy ﬁsh, it is counted as shopping. so, the japanese beat us there. but even in london, we are not only the number one shoppers, but we are today the biggest investors. we have overtaken germans, americans, japanese, and the chinese as far as investments in the uk is concerned. i am very happy and i compliment navin berry and his team for having focussed on outbound tourism, because we are having so many seminars on inbound tourism, but outbound tourism is a big strength, because when indians go abroad, they are the real ambassadors. it is because of the indians travelling abroad that every city, now, has indian restaurants and indian cuisines. indians seeking new destinations; tourism key to driving the economy it is a great opportunity and that is why what we are seeing is that whether it is the british tourist authority, or the visitor’s boards of the various states of the usa, or it is singapore or japan tourism promotion board, you name the country which is interested in tourism, is putting its marketing dollars in this country, because we are a growing market. as it has been rightly mentioned, if you see about 12-15 years back, the total number of people who travelled within india by air was about 5 million. now, we have close to 100 million domestic air passen- gers – and these are all potential outbound travellers. so, it is not just the twenty million. we are growing at such a fast rate that within the next one or two years, it will become thirty million and so on. when these people come back, they really move the economy. they come back with fresh ideas and investment, and, there, the indian tourism is really helping the economy. tourism can curb terrorism it is rightly said that the greatest need today is world peace and the more tourism we have, we will have lesser terror- ism and conﬂicts. wherever people-to-people relationship is there, it helps peace and prosperity, but wherever there is suspicion, there is conﬂict. tourism is one industry that creates peace, creates trade and moves the wheels of the economy. that is why i compliment cross section media and navin berry for having organised this event, because it gives us all an opportunity to see and understand what the various tourism boards are offering. need to evolve with changing trends; bullish on outbound, says karan anand, head relationships, cox & kings the indian outbound is at its nascent stages, because most of us are aware that we have had restrictions where you could take 500 us dollars out, every three years till 1996-97. so, if you look at it, afterwards, it became 2000 usd per person is when the birth of out- bound travel, technically, took place in india. and, if you then take the graph from 1997 to 2017, it is amazing that we have 20 million already. wttc is projecting it at 50 million usd by 2020. keeping that in mind, the other great thing that happened recently is that for the ﬁrst time we have a pm who accepted the importance of tourism and built it into his national agenda, and we have been seeing is gradual progress, because we have been highlighting on vari- ous fora’s that please do not focus only on foreigners coming into india. indians going abroad are the soft diplomatic power that needs to be harnessed. as other panellists will tell you, indians are wanted, respected, and we are shoppers. we buy a lot of activities and, more importantly, are a growing market. most importantly, people will have to remember that indians live with terrorism, pestilence and all other problems, and still travel. if you get a deal, everybody is up in the air. 3cs to successful indian outbound: communication, connec- tion and consular service to come to the important point that affects all of us here in this room is that the indian traveller keeps changing, keeps evolving, but the countries that have managed to make a huge impression on the indian market is what i call 3 cs which they do successfully. they have a very strong com- munication strategy. they have great consular services that not only support, but encourage tourism – and connectivity, ﬂights. if you get these cs aligned, you have a successful strategy. in india, every single segment, fits, gits, mice, marriages, weddings, adventure and sports, everything gets aligned, once this strategy is in place. we need to organise as an industry for governments to take tourism seriously: hanneli slabber, country manager, south africa tourism tourism is a ma- jor job creator a couple of years ago, south africa tourism did a global competitiveness project and what we wanted to know that, as government, if we invest in tourism and the reason we say we invest in tourism is because of the job creation, then what is it that creates jobs? do we need more arrivals? must they (tour- ists) spend more, or stay longer? what is it that these people need to do? what exactly are we chasing? it was a really in- teresting study. we looked at the southwest, australia, kenya; we looked at the usa, because we wanted an international benchmark. we looked at a whole lot of things, everything from education, to everything else. and what we found for south africa was that in order to create job, it is not your luxury tourism. they are great for the brand, but they are not the job creation leaders. it is the combination of packages. we have already heard that indians love adventure. we are at a great position in south africa; we have over 3000 different adventure products, but how do you pull those levers to ensure that they create jobs? what is the combinations that you have to put together? when we say indians are great shoppers, it is not only shopping. it is the nation that buys more pre-paid activities and experiences than any other nation, when it comes to south africa, but more than that, indians do not do free time. our indian travellers will do 5 or 6 experi- ences a day. when we go to europe, we are slowing down. indian outbound creates more jobs in south africa than other travellers in south africa, we have leisure activities that we call ‘the indian express’. it is done by indians. it normally takes 3 hours, but indians come and in an hour and a half, it is done. so, your tipping point in job creation is a lot lower than when you look at a really big meridien group, where you really need to put a lot of volume before you can create a job. i think, for me, there is a challenge that all the destinations have in selling. it is also how bad we are as an industry on providing the intelligence behind why we do what we do. as an industry, we do not come out of that consolidated stance. and you know what, yes india gets more money than destination x for same number of people into south africa than indians. india has had just under one lakh tourist arrivals, but then you know that one lakh tour- ist arrivals creates so many jobs in south africa. so, i need less indians to create jobs in south africa than i need brits – and therefore, that is where the money is going. that quantiﬁcation from a scientiﬁc point of view where we say, this is this is how is works and that is how we spend the budget. industry is fragmented, needs consolidation for me, that sometimes is missing from our tourism space. we do not argue that way mining, agriculture and mining argues. then when we have to go and speak to the government and have to say that we need. we are so fragmented that it is easy to ignore us. it is easy to ignore us as because we do not have the backup documentation ready and available where we go and say, there you go. for me, i think that is the big jump that as an industry we need to make. we need to stand up and say, this is it. this is what we do and how we do. this is what we deliver and you have to take us seriously. tourism an important industry for improving people to people ties: patrick santillo, minister counsellor for commercial affairs, usa in my opening remarks, i just want to share with you three observations that i have from events like this. the ﬁrst observation is that we know that all of you are very busy and had other choices of what you could do with your afternoon. so, we very much appreciate you taking the time to come here and hear our thoughts about these issues, and, indeed, the support that you lend to the industry, because you are the people that make it happen. the second thought is that as the senior commercial ofﬁcer in the usa embassy here in new delhi, i am a generalist by training. i cover many industry sectors, because the people in my organisations work on these sectors, and some of these sectors, to be honest with you, are more interesting and enjoyable than other sectors. now, just because i am at a tourism event, it does not mean that it is the only event that is enjoyable and interesting – and i would not say which sectors are, may be, less interesting, but i think you can draw those conclusions. the other thing that i want to say is that i think tourism, honestly, as subhash goyal said, more so than any of the other sectors is really about bringing people together. so, the work that you do is every bit more than, i believe diplomats and many of us are here…because your day-in and day-out life really is bringing people together. and, especially, those of you who are focussed on the outbound are really bringing people to us. that is developing that understanding. so, we really do appreciate that. and, third observation about this is that travel and tourism in the united states is a huge industry for us. it represents some 2.6% of the us gdp and we have some 7.6 million full time jobs dedicated to the industry. the industry churns out 1.6 trillion dollars in total output with 906 billion usd being direct and 656 billion dollars as indirect. indian outbound growing in stature in malta: andrew caruana galizia, deputy head of mission, embassy of malta i think europe is one of the ﬁrst long haul trips that indians make. it is a huge part of indian outbound. malta is still a niche market within europe. it is not normally the ﬁrst european country that an indian traveller will visit. but keeping in line with trends that we are currently experiencing between indian and europe, there has been a huge increase in the number of visitors to europe in general and malta in particular. indian are now looking for different destinations. most of the people who have been to switzerland, france, italy etc. are looking for something with added value, something they can discuss with their friends and families. we found out that word of mouth, when it comes to malta, has been one of the key drivers for the growth in numbers for us. almost one third of all tourists that come to malta found out about it through word of mouth. we do not have a national strategy for india, as it is not as of yet considered an important enough market for that. we have a tourism ministry and we have been trying to convince them to give us more resources for promotion in this market but the focus is still on the big european countries and now, increasingly, on china. but with growing ﬁgures and the newly coming up, high budget, indian wedding and ﬁlm shoot segments, the proﬁle of india as an inbound tourism market for us has really sky-rocketed in the last couple of years. we are yet to see the results but somehow, we are managing to get word out there that malta is an interesting place to visit. this is an exciting market for us and we have discovered that indian tourists, in general, have an appetite for adventure, for discovering something new and for travelling very far, so it is a market that we are going to keep working on and i am quite certain and conﬁdent that we are going to see more results shifting towards this market. also, speaking from national experience, if we were to talk about the growth story of india as compared to say other regional destinations like china, we ﬁnd that indian tourists are quite demanding. the standards of hotels in india are exceptional and it is very difﬁcult for european hotels to compete. one of the frequent complaints we receive is about the services at the hotels, not enough staff, small rooms etc. another challenge is that often with the advance of weddings, everyone wants to stay in the same hotel. this is not always possible, as we in malta just have a handful of 5-star hotels which get booked up very early on. we get requests for weddings with six hundred guests and they all want to stay in the best hotel on the island. this is something which is quite difﬁcult to explain. it is very different with china as there is a lot more government control, bilateral agreements, caps on arrivals etc. they are normally focussed on shopping whereas indian also want to take part in activities.
6 r e v i e w r e v i e w india one of the biggest opportunity in the g and high operational cost key chall it was a gathering of senior leaders, representing a range of carriers, from lccs to full-service, domestic t “trends in indian outbound air travel”, panellists listed out steep operational cost as a major challenge predicted rise in air passengers in india, domestic and o by anagat choudhary subhash goyal, chairman, stic group indian civil aviation is on a high growth trajectory. it is going to become the third largest market in the world by 2020 and the biggest one by 2030. these are the statistics. the civil aviation industry has ushered a new era of expansion, driven by factors such as low-cost carriers, modern airports, foreign direct investment (fdi), domestic airlines, advanced it, interventions and growing emphasis on regional connectivity. the new aviation policy has talked about regional connec- tivity. india is the ninth largest civil aviation market in the world. with a market size of $16 billion, india is expected to become the third largest aviation market by 2020. the world is focussed on indian aviation, from manufacturers, tour- ism boards, airlines, global business to individual travellers, shippers and businessmen. if we can ﬁnd common purpose among all stakeholders in india, in aviation, a bright future is in hand. according to tony tyler, director general and ceo, iata, india has a very bright future. during january to august 2016, domestic air passenger trafﬁc rose by 23.14% to 64.47 million from 52.36 million. during the same period in 2015, passenger trafﬁc increased by 21.3% to 85.57 million from 70.54 million. in july 2016, total aircraft movement at all indian airports stood at 1,68,400, which is a huge number. this was 14.3% higher than july 2015. international aircraft movement increased by 8.2% to 32,830 from 30,330 in the same period. domestic aircraft move- ment increased by 15.8% to 1,35,570 in july 2016. india is among the ﬁve fastest growing aviation markets, globally, with 275 million new passengers. the airlines opera- tion in india have projected a record collective operating proﬁt of `8100 crores for the ﬁscal year 2016 according to crisil. government agencies project that around 500 brownﬁeld airports and greenﬁeld airports would be required by 2020. the private sector is being encouraged to actively involve in construction of airports through different public private part- nership (ppp) models, with substantial state support in terms of ﬁnancing, concessional land, allotment, tax holidays and other incentives. in the union budget 2016-17, the government introduced various proposals for maintenance, repair and overall mro operations for airplanes. these include custom and excise duty exemptions for tools and tool-kits used in mro works. the government has also scrapped the one year restric- tion on utilisation of duty free parts apart from allowing import of unserviceable parts by mros for providing exchange as per revised norms. the foreign aircrafts bought in india by mro work would now be permitted to stay up to 6 months. such foreign aircrafts would also henceforth be permitted to carry passengers in ﬂights at the start and end of the stay. instead of the aircrafts coming in empty they can pick up and take pas- sengers. some major initiatives undertaken by the government are as follows – the ministry of civil aviation has ﬁnalised and put forward for approval to the union cabinet a new aviation policy which has now been approved allowing foreign airlines to ﬂy abroad; introduction of more regional ﬂights and a new formula for granting bi-lateral rights. the restriction which was there earlier on domestic airlines for a three-year period has been scrapped in the new policy. the indian space research organisation (isro) has signed an mou with the airport authority of india (aai) aimed at pro- viding space technology for the construction of airports and also help in navigation. the government of india is planning to boost regional connectivity by setting up ﬁfty new airports over the next three years, out of which at least ten will be opera- tional by 2017. aai plans to develop city side infrastructure at thirteen regional airports across india with the help of private players in building hotels, car parks and other facilities, thereby boosting non-aeronautical revenues. what we as an industry have been trying to tell the government is that instead of in- creasing landing charges or increasing charges for the airlines, we need to have more commercial activity at the airports so that the airport authorities or the various private airports may earn money through other avenues, rather than making it more expensive for airlines to operate. subhash goyal: amidst global uncertainty, how is travel and tourism demand for services panning out? how is it impacting global sentiment? what is your company’s assessment? wolfgang will senior director, south asia, lufthansa our focus has now shifted to the outbound from inbound. this is where we see the growth much more than in the stagnating markets in europe or america. deﬁnitely the focus must be on outbound when we are talking about india with its spectacular growth rates not only when it comes to domestic travel but when it comes to international travel as well. we are in a market where we see a lot of opportunity and i would just like to begin by making some statements. everybody knows about the power of india and all the airlines would agree that there is a lot of business for all the players. yes, we have seen continuous growth and that is the reason why, as an airline, we are really focussing on india and introducing the very best of our products and services in this market. we are trying to put some more capacity in to the market because it is needed. all the airlines are trying to really buy larger aircrafts or increase frequency to enhance offers etc. in the market for good reasons because there is continuous growth. this growth could be much more if we would have a better environmental situation. for example, as far as the high airport fees for airlines is concerned, i would very bluntly say that it is the airlines that get the passengers to the airport, from which the airports get good business with their shopping centres and food courts, and i think we should be rewarded for that and actually ask for money instead of the other way around. today, airports resemble huge malls. i was recently in manchester and i hardly could get to the gate. you have to get through so many shops to get to the gate. this is not the case in india. the terminals here are much more beautiful and we can be proud of those terminals be it in delhi or mumbai. the only thing i want to say that it is the airlines that have ended up paying for all that. we have seen dramatic rises in our operational costs and because of that it could be much easier if these costs could be lower and that would encourage many more airlines to come. infrastructure is something we are very happy with at the moment, especially when it comes to the big metros but do not forget that in ﬁve years, with the growth rates that we are looking at, there could be much more problems than the ones that we are already facing. for example, in mumbai, where the slot situation is already quite tight. there has to be much more investment in terms of infrastructure. what is important for us airlines is that we are in the business of moving passengers around the world and what we are worried about is that in a certain way we see that there are trends to limit this free movement. we are not happy about this. safety and security is paramount for sure and there is no compromise. we also in favour of regulations for safety and security but it needs to be co-ordinated and not sporadic. but when it comes to com- mercial aspects less is better and more. i totally agree that we should go for open skies and fair and competitive levels where the best can do good business along with all the players as well. i think there is a lot of business here and so this trend that we see today to close borders and to move towards more protectionism is not good for the industry and is not good for growth. i see a huge opportunity for airlines who are operat- ing in india to grow the business if we could have a little bit more support from all stakeholders in the industry. talking about the environment, i just wanted to talk a little bit about the gst rollout. we are aware that there are some percentages but we do not know how it will applicable or what kind of concept we are looking at. this will come later in a couple of days, hopefully, and then we will be able to react. but when it comes to the mere percentage, we have seen that it is actually
r e v i e w r e v i e w 7 y in the global aviation market, but infrastructure hallenges, say senior aviation insiders stic to multi-national, who examined trends in the aviation industry marketplace in india. in session titled ge. they also reflected on the need for creation of adequate airport infrastructure, especially given the c and outbound. we bring you excerpts from the session: not that much more than the actual percentage for the service tax. that for us was already a relief that thank god, it has not doubled or anything. that would have ended up burdening both the passenger and the airline. we are waiting for the ﬁnal application to roll out and to adjust our systems to that. david lim country manager, singapore airlines for singapore airlines, amongst this global uncertainty, there are so many things coming along. we still see a lot of growth in the market and especially in india. for us, india is a priority market. we have put in a lot of resources here and have four airlines ﬂying here to ﬁfteen points in india – and we have more than one hundred and ﬁfty weekly services. we are optimistic that the growth will continue despite all the challenges that the airline and the travel industry is facing. you may also know that we have placed a very large order for aircrafts recently and are very optimistic about the travel industry and india too. harvinder singh country head, united airlines nippon means japan in japanese. ana has more than a thousand daily ﬂights to forty one international cities as well as more of japanese domestic cities. we carry about ﬁfty million passengers per year and have a sixty- ﬁve years of history. we joined the star alliance in 1999 and have been rated a ﬁve-star airline by skytrax for ﬁve consecutive years. for india, this year is the tenth anniversary for the mumbai-tokyo route as well as the ﬁfth anniversary year for the delhi-tokyo route. our ﬂight from delhi makes the perfect connection to the us west coast cities like san-francisco every day. india is a huge potential country. on the other hand, it is a difﬁcult country to make proﬁt in as an airline too. we have been offering ﬁve-star quality service in the air at reasonable prices between to and from both mumbai and delhi. we are now working very closely with the embassy of japan and the japanese government bodies as well as the tourism industry to promote japan as a destination. as you would agree, japan has plenty of travel products but i think perception among indians is not enough. we have lots of things to do to promote japan but we are from the private sector. tourism is one of the most important challenges for the country of japan as we are planning to host the 2020 olympics here. japan national tourism organisation has opened its ﬁrst ofﬁce in india and our country agreed to designate this year as an india-japan friendly exchange year. so, i think this year is the perfect time to be a trigger for tourism in both the countries. suresh nair country head, air asia bhd have done ten years in delhi and will be celebrating ten years in mumbai, this year. we stay committed to this market and not just as an individual airline but also with our joint venture partners. as joint venture partners, there is a lot of strength that we offer to the market, adding a lot of beneﬁts to your customers whenever you are dealing with them directly. they see a lot of strength and permutations and combinations which are available when they travel out to the us. talking about educating the market, i feel that over the last so many years that i have worked in this industry, the integration between aviation and tourism has grown. the industry has to realise that we from the aviation industry are the facilitators to get people from a to b. it has grown but i think we have a long way to go and i feel that personally. we have taken a lot of initiatives and when i talk to some of our distribution partners about where we are lack- ing their point of view is that we need to educate them more in terms of our products and offerings, so that they may in turn educate their customers. obviously, there are other areas from where they can get their information, like the internet, but i think since we are playing a major role, face to face, we still need to educate our customers and our distribution is still about 96% through our travel partners and not online. we stay committed to that and we are running a lot of education programmes to make sure we educate you more on what we offer as a product so that you may further educate the cus- tomers. i think in terms of our direct education, we are trying to that as much as possible. we are an airline and there are different kinds of market segments we are catering to, so a customer who is travelling for business travel is a corporate customer and one travelling with the family is a leisure one. at the end of the day, we are more or less targeting the same person and we should be able to make sure that we do not isolate them so much, on the basis of market segment, that we do not really understand that are we focussing on one of the segments or the other. we have to try and reach out to those customers at our level as well to make sure that they do understand what we as an airline offer in the wholistic point of view when it comes to our services. yasuo taki country manager, all nippon airways i would like to divide my discussion in to a couple of impor- tant points. first the potential. in terms of the us, we have 1.5 million travellers travelling in and out. india’s participation to the us is about 1.5% of their arrivals and the us participa- tion is about 15%. having said that, i feel the kind of growth we are looking at in our outbound, there is a huge potential. in terms of united airlines’ commitment to the market, we let me begin by telling you a little bit about us. we are the largest airline in japan. all nippon airways (ana), no airline like air-asia is so focussed on the outbound traveller and the leisure travel segment which we have shown in the indian market since 2008. we started our ﬂights in to a small town called trichy which not a lot of people may have even heard about. now we ﬂy four times a day in to trichy. we have really opened up india and many of the indian cities, wherever a320s can ﬂy from, offering very low fares and living by our founder’s slogan, ‘now everyone can ﬂy.’ we have shown how it can
8 r e v i e w r e v i e w be done and created markets in these places, especially for outbound. also, in turn, we offer these low fares all across our network so that we equally bring inbound passengers in to india. the latest destination that we started was from mumbai to bali, and we opened up ﬂights on the 3rd of may and our ﬁrst ﬂight went with three hundred and thirty passengers on a three hundred and seventy-seven capacity plane. we started with a return fare of `2550 and i think half of mumbai has ﬂown to bali and the rest of them are waiting to ﬂy because the seats are booked. just before that we started bhubaneshwar to delhi and are the ﬁrst airline to ﬂy in to bhubaneshwar and have really opened up orrisa to south-east asia. we ﬂy in to a hundred and twenty destinations in the asia paciﬁc region. we have one hundred and ﬁfty-seven aircrafts now and ﬂy in to ten cities in india with one hundred and thirty planes in a week and are continuously looking for more destinations to ﬂy to. we have been pioneers in opening up what we call ‘virgin routes’. for the indian outbound traveller, the ﬁrst three cities that they ﬂy to is kuala lumpur, singapore and bangkok and we are maybe the only carrier which can take you to all these three places. the indian traveller has also become extremely adventurous, i must say. people are now looking for destinations like vietnam, cambodia, places where we never expected our people to really travel. we have really opened up these new destinations for the indian traveller. pankaj kumar executive director, air india the airline was started in 1953 and has been contributing signiﬁcantly in the development of tourism. over a period of time, the indian economy has been growing and we have been witnessing a very strong gdp growth. disposable incomes are increasing; there is aggressive marketing by tourism boards of various countries and ﬁnancing for travel is becoming easier. indians are now travelling to various countries for education, employment, business and foreign companies are coming in to india as well as vice versa. the bilateral regime has been liberalised to a large extent and getting a passport has now become so much easier. there is internet which gives passengers facilities like deciding their own itineraries and hence air connectivity is the most important thing which i would say is a key driver for the growth of outbound tourism today. if you have seen, air india in the last few years has really expanded its international network. today, i am happy to say that we are a truly global airline covering 11 destinations in europe, 4 destinations in us, destinations in asia- paciﬁc, south asia, gulf etc. so, we have a very vast network and some of these destinations, particularly with latest destinations in europe, you will see that they are very tourism centric destinations. all these destinations are such that the tourism both outbound and inbound will grow. when we started our ﬂights to vienna last year, inbound tourism from india in austria rose by 25%. that is the growth that this connection brought to that country. so, the airline is going to be offering more opportunities for both inbound and outbound tourism. you are aware that most of these destinations in europe, usa and asia paciﬁc, we are operating with boeing 787s, which is the dreamliner, having ﬂat beds in business class. the services are by in large appreciated by our customers and our business has really grown due to that. industry leaders divided on the concept of a ‘national carrier’ berry: suresh, are your international operations profitable in india? suresh nair: normally we would not operate a ﬂight without at least breaking even. berry: there was a recent report that spicejet is planning a low- cost operation to london with a dreamliner and will be charging rupees twenty-five thousand return fare. any comments? nair: see, we are the pioneers in low-cost long-haul operations with airasia x. so far, we have really expanded and now a few of these low-cost long-haul carriers have come up. i think we really need to wait and see how it works. berry: will, we have an asian low-cost carrier. we have one from the middle east, from singapore but we have no low-cost carrier coming from the european side yet. do you see any advent of low-cost from europe coming in to india or our region? will: well, the european low-cost airlines do not have long haul equipment. so, they are really focussed on the continental routes, business and trafﬁc, which there is a lot of. there is still a lot which they can cover. i do not think that this is on the european low-cost airlines’ agenda at the moment. do not forget that even low-cost in europe is still quite high cost when you compare it to the cost levels when you are operating out of asia. south-east asia, specially, has been very active and dynamic in the low-cost segment because you have here in these countries a very good cost level which europeans cannot match. in the near future, i do not see any european activities in this particular segment. berry: singapore airlines and lufthansa, you are bringing multi-products in to india. you are both bringing in four airlines. how do you have a policy between four different airlines coming to india? lim: i think for singapore airlines group, we are very clear. we have the low-cost carrier as well as full service carriers. so, we provide different price points for our customers. it is for the customer to choose. will: the lufthansa group is a little different. for us it is all full-service carriers in the premium segment. it is the portfolio that makes sense for us because it is not that we are operating to one hub only or from one gateway out of india. we are operating from ﬁve gateways to ﬁve hubs which is really something unique. this gives our customers a broad range of opportunities to combine, to really use all the services and also, because we have deﬁned very well the different brands with different products and characteristics. the point is also to give a choice to the customer and enable their decision making in whatever they expect from an airline. all the airlines have different ways of how to be perceived in their services. berry: is going to smaller, new niche destinations the answer for the future? will the concentration in the metros reduce in the years to come? will: i think it is going to be ad- ditional. the metros are going to be there and there will not be a shift as such but additional business will also go to secondary places. today, you have more modern aircrafts with better proﬁtability and productivity which has made these destinations really viable. i have seen in the recent years that there is a shift in the business away from looking only at the hubs. there is more point to point travel now. goyal: in secondary cities, there is no restriction on bilaterals. the government is very open to any airline operating to secondary cities or any of the new airports. even if it is not a part of the bilaterals, they are available very easily. berry: harvinder, any comments? united just has fourteen flights and is doing very well. what next from united? singh: honestly, as an airline we keep looking at this market. we look at additional destinations, we also look at adding capacity with a different aircraft. that is something that we are constantly looking at. our synergies with our jb partners and on a larger level with star alliance is what we are planning to intensify a little bit more in terms of offering services and making it more viable for the indian audience. berry: how relevant is the concept of a national carrier today? just your personal opinions. singh: personally, i think it is impor- tant to have a national carrier. in a lot of ways, it does reﬂect the strength of a country, it reﬂects the countries commitment to aviation. it is very important to have a national carrier which is doing well. lim: when we started in 1972, we were told that we will either swim or sink because we were to be on our own. we were also told by our then prime minister, lee kuan yew that singapore can afford not to have a national airline. the singapore interest was more than the national airline. so, for us, every year we slog to make sure we survive and continue to make proﬁt so that we may continue to be the national carrier. will: i would say that lufthansa is not the national carrier of germany. it is the largest carrier in germany and we have gone in a way where we are creating a multi-national carrier with the lufthansa group. we do not consider germany as our home market but more what is the central europe. that is why in the system we have a swiss airline, a brussel airline etc. it is a wider concept and i think in europe, the concept is going away from national airline because our customer base is different than what it was ﬁfty years ago. goyal: i have always advocated that india is more important than air india and so is india more important than the indian ﬂag but the indian ﬂag is equally important. and i think to have a national carrier for india is very important. the ﬁrst ceo of singapore airline was ex-air india. the main people who built emirates were from air india as well. it is unfortunate that air india has been through a bad patch but now with the turnaround that air india is making and with the current transparent approach you know two things. i am conﬁdent that if the past debts of the airline are absorbed, air india can become an airline that every indian can be proud of. i believe that india should have a national carrier but at the same time it should be answerable to shareholders and not members of parliament or government bureaucrats. there has to be a change in the ownership of air india and there has to be a private investment in the airline. taki: ana is a purely private company. we started our operations sixty-ﬁve years ago with just two helicopters. now, we have become the biggest airline with our own ef- forts. i do not think i am in the right position to answer that question but for sure air india is a very important carrier as we are members of the star alliance. nair: it is just a combination of fac- tors, maybe too much of government interference, if you ask me, which has really brought down air india. i think the concept is extremely relevant and we could have really taken the market. a lot of the interna- tional airlines that you see doing well these days are doing well because of indian passengers. kumar: a national carrier, be it united, lufthansa, ana or anyone is an airline which the people of that land can relate to. for example, lufthansa may not be the ofﬁcial national carrier of germany but as soon as you mention lufthansa, people think of germany. that is what is a national airline. air india has had this status since 1953, we can say. what is important is that this carrier which has gone through a very lean patch should come back to the helm of this position. whatever is required to be done to keep it healthy is to be done by the people who own this airline. you need to have one airline with which the people of the country associate.
r e v i e w r e v i e w 9 new-age travellers buying differently, changing set trends a heavy-weight panel consisting of who’s who of the outbound industry engaged in a free and frank discussion on the latest trends, changing ways of interaction with consumers and the growing enthusiasm for unexplored destinations. panelists concurred that new-age travellers with higher purchasing power are changing the way travel is purchased in the market place. we bring you edited excerpts from the session which also saw exchange of ideas among panelists and the audience. navin berry: what is the one single most important trend in your respective businesses as far as indian outbound is concerned? ratna chadha: i think indians are getting more adventurous and the aspirations are now converting to desire and action. as indians, we take a little time getting in to a trend and once something starts trending then what happens is that the world opens up. we have people based in the mini-metros and smaller cities who have aspirations like any of us and i think those guys are really fuelling aspirations. i keep saying that do not put a product or an experience in to a niche. what has happened unfortunately for us is that cruising has been put in to a niche and i think we are just stuck in that outlook. cruising is not the prerogative of the rich only. the common person has as many aspirations as the afﬂuent and i think we as an industry need to realise that and make sure we provide for that aspiration in an appropriate manner. i think we are coming to that fore. we need to get out of that niche situation because everything is not luxury. there are products as well as brands which are luxurious, if that is something that someone is looking for but like every hotel is not a hotel is not a hotel, every cruise is not a cruise is not a cruise. carl vaz: the way i look at it is the rising purchasing power of the millennial. that is something that we need to accept and that will drive future businesses because millennials are the youngest population on earth today. the future travellers are the millennials and we have to cater to them. raja natesan: the single trend that i can see these days, and it is not a positive one, that there seem to be more followers than leaders. it is more of a herd mentality than somebody who is coming up with a niche. if you look at the indian outbound travel, if somebody says that i have found a ticket which is cheap in xyz.com, a hundred people will go ratna chadha nikhil dhodhapkar our company, that there are more and more travellers coming in to the space. i think today more and more people want to take a break or a vacation. i think this is a very interesting trend. this has resulted in more opportunities and looks positive. the only question is that when you look at the one big trend that we have noticed is that there is a huge migration from the disorganised sector of travel to the organised sector as we see consolidation of large companies, in the indian space, demonetisation, gst, service tax issues and the complexity. and buy that ticket. i ﬁnd there is a lack of new thinking and ideas. yeishan goel: i can say with a fair amount of certainty that the biggest trend that we are seeing is that the indian consumer is now a signiﬁcantly bold decision maker. that is largely because travel has now become a part of the urban consumers lifestyle to a certain degree. for us that directly reﬂects in to frequency of bookings, repeat travellers etc. there is no apprehension in packing your bags and getting out, repeatedly in a year. i think that is the biggest trend of the times and one which will continue to grow. i think the 35-50 years old age segment is really the richest travelling segment, especially for luxury travel. the millennials while are travel hungry, and there is distinctively more purchasing power there than used to be, but are still very careful in their travel buying behaviour. nikhil dhodhapkar: we are ﬁnding, especially within outbound, i think you have to look at connectivity in terms of catering to demands at the right prices. hanneli slabber: what we have found out that our travel market is deﬁnitely getting younger and that they buy differently. thirty years ago, when we were selling travel, we were talking airlines and we were talking accommodation and we built around the package. today, we bring in a learning aid to india in seventeen cities, there is not a single conversation about airlines and accommodations. it is all about the experiences. we are seeing the millennials, speciﬁcally of the otas and the internet, getting smarter because they are now saying ‘i am not paying for a 5-star hotel because i do not want thirty different kinds of cereals or four hundred tv channels.’ clean, neat and safe is all that they are looking for. after that they want that money going in to experiences. we have now customers coming in and telling us the exact amount of money and time that they have to invest in travel. that makes it incredibly difﬁcult for people like me because it is an easy sell for us but where do you make your money? you make your money on accommodations, the airlines and, suddenly, the traveller is saying they are not important any more. the whole way the buying happens is completely different for us and is deﬁnitely driven by the millennials. karan anand: the one big trend that we have noticed is that there is a huge migration from the disorganised sector of travel to the organised sector as we see consolidation of large companies, in the indian space, demonetisation, gst, service tax issues and the complexity. there deﬁnitely is a trend that we see a lot of small agents who used to be independent, now want to become our franchisees. that is one major trend on the macro level. we at cox and kings love complexity, it is where we make our money. simplicity is where everybody just logs on and buys a cheap ﬂight or hotel and nobody makes money. the more complex it is, the more relevant we are. we have noticed that now there are a lot more last- minute bookings. these are a big challenge for everybody because the one thing that they do not take in to account is the visa process. sulaiman suip: a trend that i would see in the indian market at the moment is the growth of the tier ii & iii cities. this has a huge potential with the infrastructure development being undertaken by the indian government. i can see more people coming up from these areas going outbound. although not new, this shift from the metros to the tier ii & iii cities is the trend i see as of now. navin berry: what is the kind of alignment that you are seeing as a tourism board with the airline sector? are you looking to improve connectivity by working closely with airlines? sulaiman suip: we are not obliged to work with any airline. we want to work with an airline which can give us beneﬁts and inﬂows of tourism to malaysia. in fact, we have signed an mou with singapore airlines to promote long haul markets. we have also signed an agreement with airasia to jointly promote malaysia all over the world. so, we can see that by working not only with one airline but multiple ones, we can provide more choices and beneﬁts to the consumer karan anand: as a large company having a pan-india spread, i believe in the three cs and not just connectivity. communication and counsellor access are equally important as well. what we have noticed is that there are basically three broad travellers – short, mid and long haul. to us it is very important that when we crystal ball gaze, because we have to be the creators and look ahead, we really see where the alignment is between connectivity, counsellor services and the communication that we jointly participate in. hanneli slabber: we do not have connectivity. we have all of it indirect. we have no alliance with anybody speciﬁcally and we will work with anybody that will give us a good fare. apart from having connectivity and late cycle booking issues that we already have, we also have a major capacity constraint. what we are doing now is that we are looking at our airlift strategy. our peak travel period out of india, april-july, it is winter in south africa. give us direct lift over those four months and we will push 80% of our business out of india in to those four months because have the inventory. it does not help us to have direct ﬂights in november or december when we wake up too late to make use of the land.
10 r e v i e w r e v i e w from an airlift point of view, we are now seriously re-looking how we align it. we are getting massive business out of tier ii and iii cities and that shift is deﬁnitely happening. carl vaz: the delta between connectivity and destinations, or tourism boards is your counsellor services. having said that, i would also add that in addition to the dilemma of connectivity versus tier ii and tier iii cities, you have to understand that there are destinations in india, like italy, that sell without connectivity. greece sells without any connectivity. so, whilst you do say that the delta between the connectivity and tourism boards is a visa, there are destinations which are selling without connectivity. that is the dilemma of what we are faced with in the tourism industry. i think that there is a lot of dynamism that goes on give everything to our customers in black and white and this has really fuelled our business. hanneli slabber: just from a tourism point of view, what we are going to see now is that the packaging is going to change. when a client wants transparency, they do not want it across the whole chain. it is the big-ticket items that people want to see transparency in. the moment you have mystery, you have margin. for us as a tourism board, transparency is great because you are now going to package better, you are going to put things together that are too impossible to break and have transparency on every single item. the customer is going to look at the basket and feel that the value is there. carl vaz: from eight or nine destinations in europe, south east asia and middle east that i have worked with, the one perspective, transparency is a question mark in india. navin: there have been discussions on how airlines have not been effected by gst. any reflections on the gst roll out for the package tour business and tourism as a whole? hanneli slabber: actually, most of the airlines have left the route. i am seriously unhappy. this is a chain and they need us as much as we need them. for them to sit on a dais and say that when we look at gst, we are all right because it is service charge and is the same level, what are the people sitting on the seats going to do when they get on the other side? where are they going to stay? what is the role of the ground handler there? big picture argument, if we do not have the airlines backing us carl vaz raja natesan yeishan goel hanneli slabber karan anand sulaiman suip in the indian industry and it cannot be categorised only in to one particular aspect. navin berry: if we look at today in context to about fifteen years back, the entire travel and tourism business has become transparent from end to end. how has that impacted growth? nikhil dhodhapkar: i think the entire thing about transparency is making our jobs that much more difﬁcult. for example, if you look at the entire outbound travel and how it happens, right from the time when you decide a destination, decide you need a visa, a customer has started to expect that these things happen overnight. i think the entire complexity in terms of what we believe today is transparency is changing the game. karan anand: transparency to us is value. if i tell you that i will send you to a european tour for a 1000 dollars, you are going to say but that is my ticket price. so, what we have done is we have created scale. scale gives us the ability to handle large number of passenger during off-seasons. the ability to go to our airline partners and say we want to buy these tickets upfront, go to tourism boards to propose joint campaigns and the visa side says ok, i would rather work with a listed company that understands compliances, and says i will give you an advantage in terms of block bookings for visa. when you talk about transparency, the irony is that as technology became transparent on many of our products, the package market on holidays has shrunk in terms of companies. transparency in a way, to me, is more scale and value and has worked against the whole industry except for the big boys. raja natesan: i just want to take this in two aspects. one is transparency as it should be and the other is transparency as it is perceived. for some reason in india, and i can say this in absolute conﬁdence at least looking at numbers and statistics, that the people who are wanting to go outbound or even those looking to buy an airline ticket assume that there is transparency on an online travel agent space. this is one of the biggest fallacies and because of herd mentality it is presumed as transparent. it really is not and when you go to corporates and say if you want transparency why not go directly to the airlines’ platforms, nine out of times they do not want to. somewhere from the top decision maker to the person who is actually booking the ticket, there is someone who does not want transparency. we might say that we are moving towards transparency but that is just the surface. ratna chadha: transparency has been really helpful for us. it has helped our travel partners and there is complete transparency for them as well as our clients. in our business, which is really dynamic, what happens is that we are dealing with varying types of pricing because there are different regions with their own compulsions. in order for us to make sure that our indian passengers have transparency and get the value and also there is no ﬂight of business out of our country, which then impacts our travel partners, we have come to a place where even to the last dollar spent, there are comparisons available and we tell you exactly what is available vis-à-vis any other region, if there is a doubt. so, a client cannot turn around and tell our travel partners that we do not know what we are paying for. we typical question that i get asked by the heads of various tourism related organisations is ‘where can i get reliable numbers as to the number of indian travellers coming in to my country?’ the problem is that the airlines do not have it, our immigration services do not have it and of course the travel fraternity. we are all to blame in this as we hype up our ﬁgures. there are only a few listed companies that have a balance sheet which can be scrutinised. the rest are all privately held. so, you tend to rely on word of mouth and there is no association because we are really fragmented in india as associations. unlike certain countries where you have only one or two, here we have more than ﬁfteen different types of associations. so, even the associations cannot give you any relevant data. to me, when you are working for tourism boards, you have to also understand that from an international up and saying that this does our partners, who ﬁll the seats, a disfavour and the chain needs feeding, they are really doing in the partners on this one. i think it is irresponsible to say that if this works for one section of the chain, then we are stepping out of the ﬁght. it does not work like that. karan anand: the whole gst picture is evolving. my fear is more towards compliance. airlines are a very critical component as about all of india, be it inbound or outbound, is travelling by air. i just hope and pray that a holistic view to the whole industry is taken with pragmatism and seen as the low hanging fruit that it is. my take is that gst is going to affect us all and i do not know at the moment how positive or challenging it is going to be. there will be challenges going forward in any new change in process and i only hope that better sense prevails. aeroflot recently organized a familiarization trip for trade partners to moscow and sochi during 15th and 19th may. here is a picture of the delegation with a member of aeroflot posing for shutterbags.