Honourable Chief Minister Shri. Oommen Chandy urged young entrepreneurs with small, start-up businesses in the travel and tourism sector to take advantage of digital technology which is opening up vast global markets that were once unreachable through traditional marketing tools.
Inaugurating the country’s first International Conference on Travel Technology (ICTT), on June 7, Shri. Chandy said, “India, which is ranked 41st in terms of international tourist arrivals, has a long way to realise its full potential, given its natural and cultural attractions.”
However, a key step forward is the arrival of a large number of educated youth and qualified professionals in the industry which is driving innovation and growth, he said. And technology is fuelling this surge of entrepreneurship by providing platforms to market their products and services.
“Another significant aspect is that it has enabled micro-enterprises and individuals to reach out to their markets across the seas. A homestay in Kerala can now market itself just like one of the big hotel chains to its target audience in London or Sydney. In Kerala, we have a lot of entrepreneurs in the tourism sector and I’m sure technology will give them wings,” Shri Chandy said.
ICTT India is being organised by the Association of Tourism Trade Organizations, India (ATTOI) at The Leela in Kovalam, with the support of Kerala Tourism.
Hon’ble onHoUnion Minister of State for Human Resource Development Dr Shashi Tharoor who delivered the keynote address said one of the most important uses of the web for tourism business is review and response to customer feedback which is increasingly influencing travellers’ decisions.
“The real danger from the web is that it is an unmediated platform. Opinions can easily be doctored or manufactured. The best way to counter fake reviews is to put out correct information; alert hoteliers and destination managers must come up with quick responses,” he said.
Dr Tharoor, a well-known Twitter user with over 1.8m followers, is also the quizmaster of an innovative daily online quiz organised by Kerala Tourism that offers generous prizes. He described the project as an example of “the creative use of the web to stimulate interest in a destination”.
Hon’ble Minister for Tourism Shri A P Anil Kumar, who was the guest of honour at the function, said the Kerala government was among the pioneers in marketing tourism through the web and has had a long standing policy of utilising the internet for tourism promotion.
“Our marketing strategy based on the internet is headed the right way. IT has not just complemented our promotional activities, but has helped reduce expenditure and significantly lowered our consumption of print products,” Shri Anil Kumar said.
Tourism Secretary Shri Suman Billa made a presentation on Kerala Tourism’s initiatives in IT over the past few years. Some of the milestones over this period: include 8.5 million visitors annually for the official Kerala Tourism website which also became the highest ranked web page on Google beating the likes of Taj Mahal, more than 3 lakh likes on the official Facebook page in the past three months alone and over 25,000 visitors to the Ayurveda blog in just three months.
ATTOI President Shri V. Sreekumara Menon said India is today one of the best markets for players in the tourism industry as the numbers of both inbound and outbound tourists are on the rise.
“ATTOI, which is committed to eco-friendly tourism and ethical practices has achieved yet another of its stated objectives with ICTT, that of skills development,” he said. The conference will discuss the latest trends in travel technology, social media and how digital platforms can be leveraged by the industry.
Shri Anish Kumar P K, ICTT Organising Secretary, welcomed the guests and Shri Shailesh Nair, ICTT Convenor proposed thanks. Shri E M Najeeb, President, Confederation of Kerala Tourism Industry (CKTI) offered felicitations.
ICTT features 17 eminent speakers from countries such as the US, UK, Australia, UAE and India with expertise in the travel industry and digital entrepreneurship. Over the next two days the conference will cover around 23 topics including social media, online marketing, mobile applications, pricing and distribution strategies, managing reviews and handling competition, revenue management, business intelligence and the future of technology.
More than 250 delegates, including tour operators, travel professionals and bloggers, from around the country and abroad are attending.