According to the Mayan calendar, 2012 will see the world come to an end. But being an eternal optimist, I feel 2013 is a reality and will bring in renewed energy and hope once again for all of us. Though the general morale has been rather damp, (especially this Diwali being not as vibrant, the dollar rate shooting up, the increase in airfares), there were positive developments and decisions (though few on paper) that the industry should take comfort in.
New countries that ignored India in the past have made inroads into the country in 2012 to tap the India outbound business with Portugal and Bulgaria being the latest to join the bandwagon. Interestingly, the Middle Eastern airline carriers have opened up routes to these countries and have held joint promotional events to bring in the business. A win-win for the airline and the destination itself as well as opening up more options for the Indian traveller. India won special awards at the WTM 2012 event and also saw an encouraging participation from the Indian contingent. The ministry of tourism has also worked on special projects and schemes which have deep relevance to the basic functioning and performance of the tourism sector. The recent news on the reviewed guidelines for tourist visa was a treat for the tourism sector at the end of the year. The government has reviewed and lifted the two month gap on re-entry of foreign nationals coming to India except in case of nationals of Afghanistan, China, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan, Bangladesh, foreigners of Pakistan and Bangladesh origins and stateless persons.
Another interesting development has been the news that 39 locations in the Western Ghats falling in the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra have been inscribed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO during
the 36th session of World Heritage Committee held in July, 2012. Also, India Tourism has launched two new campaigns: an international campaign called ‘Find What You Seek’ and a domestic campaign called ‘Go Beyond’. These campaigns were launched at the recently concluded World Travel Market-2012, at London. In retrospect, what comes to my mind is realistic hope that 2012 is not the end and that 2013 will bring in renewed enthusiasm.