Indians are travelling more domestically and internationally these days.(Unsplash )
Countries that have realised the importance of travel and tourism and their impact on the economy have provided industry status to this area and it is quite desirable that India also makes this move, feels Deep Kalra, the CEO of travel portal MakeMyTrip.com.
“It is very important we do that because the amount of employment it generates and jobs of all kinds,” Kalra said at the Hindustan Times Tourism Conclave 2019 in Delhi during an interaction with Shrija Agrawal, Associate Editor with the Mint.
He said there is a need to think holistically about the tourism industry and its effect on the economy. The good thing is we have all the natural bounty. However, the hoteliers of Agra complain that people visit there, see the Taj, and return in the evening. What can be done to hold them back? he asked.
He said the need was to make the entire experience including travelling, enjoyable and memorable.
He referred to Lakshadweep is one of the country’s best-kept secrets and whenever it opens it would be a marvellous tourist destination.
Kalra said that Indians are travelling more domestically and internationally these days.
Kalra said that the high GST structure, which goes upto 28%, rendered industry uncompetitive as compared to other parts of the world. The industry has made concerted efforts, Kalra said adding he expected there could be a revision in the coming days.
There couldn’t be a better time to give a big push to tourism as Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself has appealed to Indians to discover domestic destinations by 2022.
Unlike previous decades, Indians are taking more breaks and going for travel unlike earlier when there was more focus on savings.
He said trends were changing and at MakeMyTrip a lot of demand was to organise women-only trips.
A new concept of celebration travel had also set in and had been boosted by direct flights to a lot of global destination.
“The world is becoming your oyster,” Kalra said.
Speaking about India, he said that India has so much to offer but added that sometimes it is not packaged in a way that everyone can get it so easily.
Speaking further about the trends being experienced in the industry, Kalra said over two-third of all who book tickets are doing it online.
He said in places like Coorg etc, people are also opting for home or villa options than the traditional hotels and resorts option. This was a concept which was in vogue abroad but is now getting popular in India, he said.
Kalra was asked about the phases of struggle as part of his journey with MakeMyTrip.
“We only learn in the failure,” he replied.
It was a dream start in 2000 but within a year the dotcom bust happened and the portal had to struggle. We nearly had to pack up, he said. Some of the team took salary cuts and took no salary for eighteen months but those four years were really testing, he said.
He said the company brought an IPO in 2010 and when Kingfisher went bust “it was a big bang”. We had a really tough time because 90 % of the revenues came from air. He said the company diversified over the years and now only 34 % come from air while a bigger chunk comes from accommodation.
Even the bus ticket business brings a substantial part of the revenue now, he said.
HT Tourism Conclave brings together illustrious minds, visionaries and government representatives from the tourism industry to discuss strategies and growth drivers that will not only translate into meaningful changes but also reshape the way we think tourism.
First Published: Sep 20, 2019 17:21 IST