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A change is in the air

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This time of the year always reflects a distinctly active or rather reactive industry as two major events take place, the announcement of the much awaited Union budget of India and subsequently the largest global tourism event in Berlin, namely ITB-Berlin. The budget 2013-14 brought in its share of hopes and hopelessness, as the industry has felt left out once again with few generic and progressive infrastructure development announcements that will bring in some improvement in the tourism sector. The fast track work on the DMICDC is predicted to garner some benefits for tourism, which is more long term as the short term immediate reaction toward the budget has been that of despair. The service tax issue to other pertinent problems related to the industry has been still kept on the backburner.

Within the tourism trade, the travel agents fraternity in India have been a troubled lot as the fight toward moving back to commissions on airline ticketing is also falling on deaf ears, with the Supreme Court ruling also going against their interest. The agent-airline relationship is passing through what can be termed as a Cold War and one can only wait and watch to see the end result.

Meanwhile, Indian skies are witnessing a new change in the air. I vividly remember my meeting with Air Asia’s chief Tony Fernandes in 2007 and he had then said, “I know I can make money in India.” He has now come into India and with none other than a group which is one of India’s most trusted corporate houses, who are also well versed with the aviation sector. On the other page, the Jet-Etihad proposal is strongly moving towards an interesting partnership as the recent action at Heathrow is clearly indicative of the same. Our local low cost carrier pathfinder the Captain from Mysore is also planning to revisit the business of civil aviation. Though the Indian civil aviation industry is challenged with restrictions, bottlenecks and hurdles that pin its wings, this looks like interesting times for the sector.

Lastly our cover story this issue is dedicated to the wealth of India – our national parks and sanctuaries. A true national pride with such diverse fauna and flora. All we need is a serious and committed will to protect and preserve this legacy for posterity.

Reema Lokesh

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