“Coordinated effort needed in tourism and aviation sectors”

Staff Reporter

Concern over the current scenario arising out of recent terror attacks in Mumbai

NEW DELHI: The International Foundation for Aviation and Development, a Montreal-based non-profit organisation, organised a seminar on “Current crisis in aviation and tourism -- Opportunities ahead” at India International Centre here over the weekend.

Over 80 leading personalities from the aviation and tourism sector attended the seminar. Presentations were made and discussions held on the present scenario arising out of the recent terror attacks in Mumbai.

The deliberations veered round to the view that new opportunities need to be found in this situation of crisis. It was observed that after the hijack of the India Airlines aircraft IC-814 to Kandahar in Afghanistan on December 31, 1999, airports across the country were made fully secure and so far no security-related incident had happened at any Indian airport. It was felt that in the recent serial attacks in Mumbai the terrorists did not attempt to target Mumbai airport as it had become very secure but hotels were soft targets. Now hotels and other tourist areas need to be made more secure and the overall coordination of intelligence agencies needs a much greater effort was another outcome of the deliberations.

Quoting example of Sri Lanka, it was stated that a coordinated effort by all private players in tourism and aviation was required to bounce back. Better packages need to be offered to in-bound tourist, specially because India is an expensive destination. The spirit of 2001 needs to be revived when the “Incredible India” campaign was launched post 9/11.

It was felt that the revival of low-cost airlines was a must to revive demand in the sector. Airports must offer incentives like is being done in other countries. The media’s role and impact on tourism and travel was also discussed. It was felt that electronic media, both Indian and foreign, had damaged the immediate tourism prospects of the country and a large number of cancellations were taking place. It was felt that the media should also be used to project that India is a large country and other parts of the country are safe and secure.

An example was given of decline in tourism in Kashmir due to terrorist activities that had led to an increase in tourism in Kerala after an innovative promotional campaign. Penetration of new markets for in-bound tourism was now overdue and should be taken up urgently. Further liberalisation in aviation should be carried out. All fog-bound airports should have category III ILS to ensure proper landing even during fog. It was also pointed out that fiscal relief to the tourism and travel industry was required immediately Some relief had been given to aviation but tourism had not been given any relief.