A well-versed travel professional who feels highly about promoting Domestic Tourism in India, Chetan Gupta, Director, R G Destinations Pvt. Ltd.; Hony. General Secretary, ADTOI; member of CII and board member FAITH is a man not just with a clear vision but also an extremely kind heart.
Apart from promoting India to Indians, the last few months have been well-spent by his NGO in doing some path-breaking charity work. From addressing menstrual hygiene of women to distributing raw and cooked food packets, he has contributed much to the society in the months gone by. Here’s his ‘Industry Insight’ into what he feels will get the tourism industry out of its present pothole.
Priyanka Saxena Ray
Please do tell us something about the charity work being done by you during COVID 19?
Covid 19 has actually made most people suffer across the world and the travel industry is on the top of the list of the most suffered ones. We have seen lot of people suffering from hunger, hygiene, health and more. Thus, through our NGO – “Sutra Foundation”, we tried to help and support the deprived people in the locality in whatever best way we could. We organized a camp for the deprived women on 28th July on Awareness on Women Hygiene wherein we distributed 6000 sanitary pads, 10,000 face masks, 15,000 tablets of Vitamin D, Calcium & Iron to cover one month cycle. The program was warmly welcomed by the local women and appreciated the cause. More details on the same can be found on our website.
We also recently organized another camp on “Food Distribution” wherein we distributed ready food to approx. 2000 poor and hungry people on road. We made simple Rice, Chola and Halwa to feed them atleast for one meal. Apart from this, we have distributed 500 food packets to poor people living in slums. Each packet contained 2kg of Rice, 2kg of Flour, 1Kg Dal, 1 Litre oil, salt and other spices.
Our forthcoming event is for the blind children. We are planning to take 100+ blind children on a day trip of Delhi Darshan in September 2020. We will hire 3 buses and take them to all the important places in Delhi where we have the facility of Braille language system along with a lunch and tea/coffee snacks.
How severely has your business been affected by the pandemic? Did you also have to let go of some of your staff because of the crisis?
Business is totally shut for more or less last five months. We are just following up with hotels, airlines and cruises for the refund as we are getting lot of pressure from our clients for refund of tour cancellation. At the moment we have only skeleton staff working full time on full salary coming in office for follow up on refunds, payments and complete accounting work. We have requested the other half of our staff to stay at home at 50% salary and the remaining at 25% till the lockdown gets over completely and work resumes. We have to retain our staff as they are with us since over a decade. We cannot leave them at this stage of life but it is very unfortunate and sad that our government is not supporting the travel industry at all.
What way forward do you see for tourism? Do you think Domestic Tourism has the potential to pull India Tourism out of the dark?
I see that only Domestic Tourism has the potential to pull India tourism out of the dark. This is the only segment of tourism which has started to show a bit of activity and will be the first to kick start until a proper vaccine comes for Corona. At the same time I strongly believe that tourism stakeholders and TA/TO should come out and start visiting places to show that it is safe to travel. We have to bring the fear out from our client’s mind and convince them to travel. I think this is the way forward to start tourism in India. Even our Hon’ble Prime Minister also urged citizens to travel atleast 15 domestic places till 2022, which is what our target should be as we promote India to Indians.
What, in your opinion, are some of the points that a person must consider before selling Domestic Tourism in India?
Not everyone can be an expert in selling Domestic Tourism. Due to Corona and lockdown and its aftereffects, TA/TO of specialised sectors have started selling Domestic Tourism now. But I feel you should have complete product and destination knowledge before you start your promotions and selling any destination. Clients come to us for an experience and not just to book a hotel or transfer or excursions.
Do you feel states in India are active or let’s say proactive enough in keeping this domestic tourism energy buzzing?
States in India are always very proactive in promoting their region not only in India but to the world. Few of the states like MP, Gujarat and Kerala are on top in terms of promoting their states on all platforms. Their main source market is not inbound and they have keen focus on domestic market. We are talking about 180 crore domestic travellers (visits), which is a huge number that can profit all stakeholders in the travel and tourism and each state can benefit from it.
Are you disappointed with the way Tourism sector has been ignored by the government? Are you hopeful of receiving any financial aid from the govt. in the near future?
Being an office bearer of ADTOI and board member of FAITH, I had a chance to be a part of several meetings with the Tourism Minister, Secretary Tourism, Jt. Secretary, DG and other senior officials and discussed the problem at length. However, the conclusion every time is that they have their own limitation as tourism involves one of huge unorganized sectors on which the government has no data and cannot support. The fight is to support all but on what grounds. We have suggested to go for GST certificate means all registered agents or with MOT approved agents, which the Ministry can also acknowledge.
What all has ADTOI been doing to keep the domestic tourism momentum going in the country?
We at ADTOI, over the last few months, have been trying our best to arrange educational session, product presentations etc. for our members on a regular basis. Starting from big chain luxury 5* dlx hotels to 4* category of hotels, technology companies, GST compliances etc. we have also been regularly sending all updated information to members such as current situation in state and SOP’s and we feel that this will help our members to stay abreast with the situation and our hotel/tech partners will get a chance to interact with our members and share their products/specials.
Is there any more information that you would like to share with us?
Media always plays a vital role in the tourism industry. We want Media to stay focused and promote positive news. We all are suffering due to this pandemic and TA/TO need encouragement to stand up again to start running. With positive reading and positive atmosphere, I am sure we will come back soon, stronger than ever.