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World Travel Organisation to inaugurate Mumbai travel mart conference

Dr. Harsh Varma, currently the World Tourism Organization`s (WTO) regional representative for Asia and the Pacific and …

Dr. Harsh Varma, currently the World Tourism Organization`s (WTO) regional representative for Asia and the Pacific and Chief of the Organization`s Asia-Pacific Section, will be inaugurating the CEO Conclave at the World Travel India (WTI) conference. WTI will be staged between 5 – 8 February and combines a major international travel exhibition along with the conference.

According to Richard Gayle, project manager of WTI, we are delighted that Dr Varma will be addressing our conference. He has accumulated unique insights into the Indian travel market from both a domestic and international perspective as prior to joining the WTO, Dr. Varma was Deputy Director General in the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation of India.

WTO is the largest inter-governmental organization in the field of travel and tourism. With more than 145 member countries and 400 private sector affiliate members, WTO is also a specialized agency of the United Nations on the lines of UNESCO and WHO.

According to a statement issued by Dr Varma, he said that WTO has been extremely active in the Asia-Pacific as it`s the fastest-growing region of the world and the major playing field for international tourism. For the first time in the history of global tourism, the Asia-Pacific region overtook the Americas to become the second-most visited region of the world after Europe with over 133 million international arrivals.

There is no doubt that the Indian tourism market is one of the fastest growing markets in the world and the country has the potential and the ability to sustain the growth in the long term. A robust economy, the extraordinarily successful Incredible India campaign and the relative peaceful political environment in South Asia – all these factors have contributed to this growth, said Dr Varma.

Seven pre-requisites for sustained growth

His presentation at WTI will prove to be both exciting and informative for domestic Indian and foreign delegates alike. Dr Varma clearly recognises the growth in tourism in India, but says sustained growth will need an ongoing commitment to a development strategy. He cites infrastructure development, improved public-private sector co-operation, the continuation of Incredible India campaign, product development, opening up of news tourist circuits, spreading of the tourist season to 9 – 10 months and better air movements as pre-requisites for this growth.

Air travel and more specifically issues associated with India`s civil aviation policies remain a hot topic for foreign airlines. This promises to be high on the agenda for other delegates and speakers at WTI such as Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways. Dr Varma said that while a lot has been gained through open skies policy, still a lot remains to be done to improve the accessibility to the country. A simple way is to encourage foreign air carriers from Western Europe, North America and selected Asian markets such as Japan, Republic of Korea, China, and Australia, to fly to India from their secondary ports of departure.

A travel business programme will be staged within the WTI venue with guest speakers drawn from both international and domestic sectors. These include the, Head of Tourism Worldwide at Deloitte Touche, Mr Alex Kyriadikis, Qatar Airways, Mr Akbar Al Baker and Dr Harsh Varma, Director of World Tourism Organisation for the Asia Pacific Region.

From the Indian market, guest speakers will include India`s Ashish Kumar Singh, Managing Director of the Maharashtra tourism board and Vice-Chairman of SAARC Chamber Tourism Council, Mr Pradip Madhavji. In addition to the business programme, WTI will be the venue for a high profile Aviation Executive Round Table Meeting presided over by Mr Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Minister of Aviation, Government of India and the CEO of Qatar Airways, Mr Akbar Al Baker. These are just some names amongst a host of VIPs and guests attending World Travel India said Gayle.

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