In an effort to further boost Himalayas as an Adventure Tourism destination, the Ministry of Tourism (MoT), Govt. of India has allocated Rs three crore for the promotion of the region. MoT will decide the details of distribution of this allocation shortly. This was announced by Subhash Goyal, Chairman, Stic Travels Pvt. Ltd and President, IATO at the recent round table on Adventure Tourism organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in New Delhi. Goyal urged the adventure travel trade to prepare packages offering Indian Himalayas.
The event discussed various challenges faced by adventure tour operators and the need for cooperation and coordination between different ministries. Arjun Sharma, Co-Chairman, CII National Committee on Tourism & Managing Director, Le Passage to India gave the welcome address. Padma Shri Ajeet Bajaj, Managing Director, Snow Leopard Adventures; Akshay Kumar, CEO, Mercury Himalayan Explorations Ltd & President, ATOAI; Karan Anand, Head-Relationships & Supplier Management, Cox & Kings Ltd; David K Singh, Director & Product Manager, Eco Adventures Pvt. Ltd; Subhash Verma, President ADTOI & Chairman, Travel Plus; Poonam Chand, Deputy Director, Uttarakhand Tourism; Sudhir Sahi, International Tourism Consultant; and distinguished ATOAI members attended the event.
Kumar urged the government to permit use of satellite phones in remote areas for the safety of tourists, and attract Adventure Tourism business from foreign countries. “Majority of Adventure Tourism activities are taking place in the remote areas. Thus, communication devices such as satellite phones are required for the safety of tourists because of non-availability of communication system. Besides, international tour operators have stopped promoting Adventure Tourism destinations, which do not have satellite phone facilities.”
Kumar stated that the country needs low-cost green field air strips in the hilly areas; especially in the Indian Himalayas for the ease of travel for tourists engaging in Adventure Tourism. “If India develops more air strips in the Himalayas, tourists can save travelling time for their adventure holidays. Helicopter service is expensive and has less passenger capacity,” he added.
Kumar thanked MoT for realising the potential of Indian Himalayas. With this, he believed that India can be a year round tourism destination because peak tourist season is from October to March, and from March to October the travel trade can promote Indian Himalayas.
Delivering the theme address, Bajaj said that the value of global Adventure Tourism business is USD 89 million. “It is the right time for the travel trade to look at Adventure Tourism business seriously as the potential globally is very huge. Annually, in India Domestic Adventure Tourism is growing between 15 to 20 per cent and Inbound Adventure Tourism between five to seven per cent,” he said. With India receiving two million adventure tourists every year, he said that India should promote “incredible Indian Himalayas”.
India has 60 per cent of Himalayas encompassing six states. “Indian Himalayas has huge potential for Adventure Tourism. The country should optimise existing air strips at various parts of hilly states such as Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, etc.,” Bajaj added.
As part of the event, CII organised three significant business sessions titled Adventure Tourism in India: Infrastructure & Product Development; Effective Marketing Strategies – Huge Potential to attract tourist from India & Abroad; and Responsible & Sustainable Adventure Tourism Activities – Need of the hour.
Maj S. K Yadav, Managing Director, Wanderlust Travels; Sanjay Kumar, General Manager, Marketing, Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd; Aashish Gupta, Founder/ Strategy Listener & Facilitator Strategy, Pluto; Sunil Bhatia, Head Marketing, Haryana Tourism; Supratik Sen, National Head Sports and Events, Red Bull India Pvt. Ltd.; Vibhav Gaur, Director: Business Development & Strategy, vXplor Adventures; Vinay Dhiman, Deputy Director (Tourism & Civil Aviation), Himachal Pradesh; Mridula Tangirila, Director- Operations, Tajsafaris; and Prasenjit Biswas, Business & Development Manager, Ladakh Safari were the distinguished guests present at the event.