2013 has started off with some reasonable action in the tourism and hospitality industry. From the first ever International Tourism Mart (ITH) in the north east organised by the ministry of tourism in Guwahati followed by the ATOAI convention to the soon to held TAFI convention in Durban, there has been some new wave of positivism. ITH and the adventure tour operators annual convention definitely opened up the north east to visitors providing a real-time insight into the region. The tourism wealth that the region possesses is an experience and it is time to position it as a high value niche tourism product. Prominent hospitality brands are slowly making inroads into the region and it is paramount to undertake development keeping in view the serious need for sustainable and responsible tourism growth. The balance has to be rightly executed. A cautious and environmentally sound development plan is the need of the hour. From its national parks and sanctuaries to that of its culture, the region offers a unique ecosystem that should be enjoyed in a responsible way. The adventure tour operators did highlight the four pillars on which the success of their business stand – ethics, sustainability, safety and SOPs.
After the adventure tour operators, it is now the turn of the travel agents fraternity to put forth their views and suggestions. Their action is waiting to unfold in the Zulu kingdom and after the recent Supreme Court judgment on the transaction fee issue, this convention is predicted to spell out some solutions and action plans for the fraternity. The travel trade fraternity is going through its share of challenges and an inevitable metamorphosis. The traditional models, formats and tools of business need to be verified and reworked to meet the demand of today and tomorrow and skill upgradation backed by sound product knowledge will go a long way in paving a strong business model. Though on one hand the fight for justice and survival continues on the other agents need to adapt to change quickly to survive the pressures and demands of today. The time is now to invest in technology and accept new systems and online networking tools enhance the business further. Investing in human resource talent and to develop skills to meet the future requirement is yet another aspect that needs serious attention. Further, there is no substitute for team work and ethics in trade. The travel agents need to face the challenges of today as a united force rather than as fragmented groups. Finally, change is the most powerful tool toward progress and adapting and accepting change with an open mind can only facilitate progress effectively and effortlessly.