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Ticket to the future

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The month of April will see a lot of action in the tourism space as there are prominent events and marts scheduled to be held across the country and abroad. From The Gujarat Travel Mart, Great India Travel Bazaar (GITB) to the UNWTO regional joint commission meeting in Hyderabad and the 13th annual WTTC Global Summit in Abu Dhabi, this month will throw the spotlight on tourism.

Amongst the major challenges that Indian tourism faces, the issue of transport is a crucial one. With a turbulent aviation sector and a non-existent cruise business all hopes lie on surface transport. Indian roads are on the path of improvement but it is going to be a long journey. With new ventures and expansion plans in the car rental business it is a positive sign for Indian roads in the future. Then there is the railway.

Indian Railways may be a legacy of the British rule but today it is a wholly ingrained part of the Indian culture. Most Indians will have fond memories linked to train travels in India, after all it has continued to be an affordable medium to travel across the country. No one can complain that railways in India has never acted with foresight and a future vision but it is the lack of standardisation and quality which forces brickbats upon it. Perhaps it is the tug-of-war between profitability and public service that is the challenge.

Tourism is a direct beneficiary of this criss cross of metal tracks across the country. While luxury trains of India have created a niche for themselves it is the passenger trains that need the focus. Especially since these are the trains which are often the only way to access some of the major tourist destinations in the country. The challenge today for Indian railways is to rise up to its mammoth potential and make people take notice rather than take the services for granted.

The month of April or May, may also witness the formal announcement of the hospitality and tourism industry’s answer to NASSCOM. FAITH (Federation of Association in Indian Tourism and Hospitality) will comprise of 10 associations of tourism and hospitality which will be headed by Nakul Anand and is aimed to represent the fraternity with a common voice.

Reema Lokesh

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