An ace for India

Turning an ace at travel promotion. Vijay with the SKAL International President Mary Bennet.

Turning an ace at travel promotion. Vijay with the SKAL International President Mary Bennet.  

FOR UN Ambassador of Peace and tennis legend, Vijay Amritraj, it was a different ballgame altogether. Amritraj who plays a vigorous game on centre court, was given the task of telling delegates to the World Tourism Professional Congress at the Chennai Trade Centre over an hour, why more people should visit India.

"Come and see for yourself the Incredible India, the world's largest democracy and second most populous country. We will shower the extra touch of warmth," Amritraj said, as he got rolling at the specially organised tourism forum session on the SKAL Congress theme - Tourism Through Friendship and Peace."

"Travelling itself is an education. And by travelling one explores the world which opens up new vistas. It becomes an eye-opener especially for the younger generation," the ace Davis Cup Tennis Star said, drawing applause from the overseas visitors. His point to the delegates was that India was different from many other parts of the world, in its cultural diversity and could provide them a rewarding lifetime experience. "If you visit India once, I am sure the vastness of the country and cultural diversity would make you repeat visitors," Amritraj said.

Making a fervent appeal to the Central and State Governments to re-examine the thrust areas of the tourism industry, Amritraj said with the Internet coming into the picture, the tourism sector is undergoing a revolution.

Travel can bring peace, as Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev tells the delegates.

Travel can bring peace, as Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev tells the delegates.  

Admitting that the younger generation in India was strongly influenced by the West, leading to the opening up of night life options in `conservative' Indian metros including Chennai, Amritraj said, "There is still no place like India in the world. I still enjoy friendships from Stockholm to Singapore and Manhattan to Melbourne. Each trip to each nation means new discoveries, new ideas, new pleasures and new experiences and opportunities. Travellers learn so much and leave so much behind. We are coming back. I know destinations globally are becoming more security conscious and bureaucratically controlled. And now the buzzword is travel safe and in peace. We need to educate the global masses and we seek the support of SKAL to help achieve the goal of glory of travel especially the senior and the young hip visitors," Amritraj said wrapping up his talk and an inter-active session with the delegates.

"Travel has been my greatest education. But, I have a clear vision of expansion of tourism around the world. And I also know only the respects of the experts like you and the Congress such as this could drive it all in that direction," he said, drawing thunderous applause from the World Tourism professionals who wanted the Government of India to appoint him `India's Incredible Ambassador of Tourism' to promote the destinations globally.

And after an interactive session with the tennis star, the delegates were in for a different kind of experience with Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. The familiar guru from the Isha Foundation in Coimbatore, began his talk with an exposition on how yoga could help find bliss and spur global tourism.

Vasudev, the founder of a sacred space for self-transformation, and who is just back after a tour of strife torn Lebanon, urged the global tourism professionals to do a balancing act to encourage travel that would bring joy to people.

By Shankar T.S.

Photos: M. Moorthy

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