The Additional Director General of the India Ministry of Tourism, Ms. Rupinder Brar, said that technology will be a game-changer for the travel start-up industry and government is ready to support new ideas and collaborate with start-ups.
Addressing a webinar on “Travel Start-up Accelerator Series – Towards A Self-Reliant India,” organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), Ms. Brar said that COVID-19 will accelerate the digital transformation in the India travel and tourism industry that will lead to innovative, creative, and out of the box thinking. “We cannot miss out on the software product opportunity that lies in front of India, and this is the time for start-ups to ‘Make in India’ and for the world,” she added.
Ms. Brar stated that as travel restrictions are easing, both the government and industry are coming up with ideas to implement minimum or no-contact set up. “E-visa seems to be the way forward which can act as a supporting tool for the promotional campaigns run by the governments. This will also help in recognizing a tourist destination as a safe destination,” she said.
Highlighting the global competition in the tourism industry, Ms. Brar said: “Adopting digital technology provides the best opportunity for the tourism industry to cement their position in the Indian economy. There has never been a better time for the industry to use it and make themselves globally competitive.”
The slow easing of international travel restrictions in the future will result in intense competition as countries will target the same markets. This calls for an aggressive strategy focusing on the intense use of technology, noted Ms. Brar.
The Director of Travel, BFSI, Classifieds, Gaming, Telco & Payments for Google India, Ms. Roma Datta, said digital adoption by consumers has increased in the past few months, and travel start-ups must leverage the opportunities in digitization.
“Understanding the changing needs of the travelers; reinventing, reimagining, and being relevant are key factors for travel start-ups. COVID-19 has taught India to be ‘Atmanirbhar [self-reliant],’ and several start-ups will emerge from this adversity by seeking inspiration from the global market,” said Ms. Datta.
The Co-Chairman of the FICCI Travel Technology Committee & Thought Leader, Mr. Ashish Kumar, said that companies need to focus on innovation which is the key for sustained growth. Travel companies and businesses must promote their safety protocols and encourage travelers to also keep sustainability in mind, he added.
The Co-Chairman of the FICCI Travel Technology Committee & Co-Founder TBO Group, and Managing Director of the Nijhawan Group, Mr. Ankush Nijhawan, said that the new travel companies are extremely talented but require mentorship to take the next step. He also urged the government to support and boost the start-up sector in India.
The Secretary General of FICCI, Mr. Dilip Chenoy, said that start-up as a concept challenges the existing business models, markets, and thought process and brings in disruption. “During the pandemic, we must identify the start-ups and help them accelerate. This is a time to create a new experience which is safe, secure, and generates a growth paradigm for the industry,” he added.
The webinar was moderated by Mr. Kartik Sharma, Board Member of the Start-Up Mentor Board.