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Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism recently organised a conclave on ‘Furthering Quality Capacity Building in Tourism’ at the Federation House, FICCI. Along with Sanjay Kothari, special secretary, Ministry of Tourism; Dr Jyotsna Suri, chairperson and MD, The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group; Subhash Verma, president, ADTOI (Association of Domestic Tour Operators of India); Sarabjit Singh, president, ITTA (Indian Tourist Transporters Association); Ashok Sharda, president, Government Approved Tourist Guides’ Association (GATGA) and Ram Badrinathan, CEO, GlobalThen were amongst the key panelists.

At the conclave Kothari released the FICCI-YES Bank theme paper on ‘Furthering Quality Capacity Building in Tourism’ which highlights the fact that with growing infrastructure, the growth of manpower in the tourism industry becomes the key concern in the robust and sustained growth of travel and tourism industry. Hence there is a need to focus on key ground elements that is, human resource development and take certain steps to ensure its progressive growth so that it does not lead to under-utilisation and premature depreciation.

Servicing the sector with skilled manpower has become imperative and foremost challenge for the 12th Five Year Plan. The ministry of tourism from the period 2010-16, is aiming at the tourism sector to generate additional jobs of about 2.5 crore, both direct and indirect. They propose to achieve this through expansion of institutional infrastructure, broad-basing of hospitality education, skill up-gradation and certification of service providers, skill development through short duration courses, through hotels and in niche and other products.

Dr Arbind Prasad, director general, FICCI stated, “An investment of Rs 10 lakh creates 78 jobs in the tourism sector while the same generates just 18 jobs in the manufacturing and 45 in the agriculture sector.” This clearly shows the vast potential in the industry.

The report also emphasises that tourism sector touches a wide value chain, and it is imperative that investments into, and benefits garnered from the sector, spread out more widely and efficiently amongst the populace, thereby acting as a strong socio-economic enabler. Kothari addressing the conclave said, “The private sector needs to focus on short duration courses, introduction of hospitality as vocational subject at secondary education and synergy of efforts with other ministries and organisations of the Government of India and state governments.”

Sidharth Birla, vice president, FICCI said, “The conclave aims to focus on furthering quality capacity building in four key and ground level elements for the tourism industry, namely tourist guides, taxi drivers, hotels and restaurants and tour operators and travel agents.”

“The hospitality sector is comparatively better developed with many training institutes in place. However, capacity building needs to be institutionalised for emerging options such as budget hotels, serviced apartments and restaurants and hotels in the unorganised segment, to improve service levels,” he added.

Suri remarked, “The unorganised sector is a cause of concern as the level of training is uncertain. The experience of tourists is also affected by their services. Budget hotels, restaurants, wayside amenities, small tour operators and travel agents and drivers all come under this sector.”

Speaking to Express TravelWorld, Badrinathan said, “The report has correctly identified that we are not doing enough on the service delivery aspect of tourism as the physical infrastructure is building up. This will be the one of the differentiators in the future. Innovative approaches will have to deployed to scale training using technology and media.”

Tushar Pandey, president and country head, Strategic Initiatives Government and Advisory (SIGA) Group, YES Bank presented the report’s key initiatives that need to be undertaken by stakeholders to enhance the skills of the workforce in travel and tourism industry. Some of the key points that he presented were:

  • The policies and guidelines formulated for the HRD programme have to be in sync with the market, and as well as focus upon developing the base level skills (communication, etiquettes etc.) across all segments. An active industry-academia alliance, and constant interaction between the industry and the government can help the policy formulation process. The setting up of National Skills Development Corporation under which Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) have been established to supplement the vocational education system of the country and the SSCs of every industry sector have the active support of all major players of that sector, in order to be successful in its role.
  • Assessment of training programmes is still an area of concern, since while following the criteria of minimum percentage would suffice for technical, it loses its accuracy in terms of vocational education, where the purpose is ‘enabling’ instead of ‘evaluating’.
  • Tour guide associations should be consultative partners during policy formulation as well as feedback.
  • The owner of the taxi stands/the operators on ground need to be roped in by the Department of Tourism in each state to train the ground drivers.
  • Certification is a crucial aspect as it provides a degree of credibility of the travel and tour operators, and ministry of tourism has a scheme of approving it. They should be reviewed periodically and initiatives should be undertaken to increase its reach.
  • Apart from certification, training is a crucial component for capacity building of travel and tour operators and emphasis needs to be laid on ability to handle complaints of a diverse profile of customers, time management, people management and client handling and developing a flavour of the local demography and attractions.
  • The drivers, who often face precarious situations like accident and road blocks need to be trained in crisis management skills and first aid administration.
  • The concept of people public private partnership (PPPP) or public social private partnership (PSPP) as a more inclusive form of development is gaining force as an attempt to restore the social equity in PPP models, as the dispersive nature of the effects of incremental tourism tend to affect a wide part of the society.
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