TTW – This is the 2nd ITM in India. The first was in January in Guwahati. What was the global response after ITM 1?
Parvez Dewan : ITM 1 figures have not come out and are scheduled to be out next year between March and April. Only the response is a feeling. People and travellers , the buyers, stake holders and the exhibitors have showed interest in North East. The North East as an entity is being promoted internationally. The main achievement is a small international community, which has taken shape around ITM. The actual statistical records will be out by 31st march, 2014.
TTW – What was the theme of ITM 2 in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh?
Parvez Dewan : ITM is more a state wise promotion of the North East. ITM this time aimed to promote Arunachal Pradesh, just like it intended to promote Assam last time. We want to promote the mountains where as last time it was Assam, the rhinos, the river Brahmaputra, and the Majuli Island. Apart from showcasing the North East, including Sikkim and West Bengal, Assam was in focus. This time ITM aimed to shed light on Tawang, which is still a beautiful yet uncharted tourist destination. However, we included West Bengal as the part of the promotions as we have a varied destination and tourism prospect in Kalimpong, Darjeeling and so on. In all ITM is trying to promote all the nine states that include the seven sisters, Sikkim and West Bengal.
TTW: You said you want to promote North East globally. What are the countries you are targeting?
Parvez Dewan : The government is targeting the south East Asian countries as most of the south eastern countries that fall in ASEAN and recent neighbors of North East states including Sikkim. Apart ASEAN Bangladesh is also in focus. The main importance is on the East Asian countries like Japan, Korea etc. However, on request of the North East Governments union tourism has taken initiatives to target countries like Spain, USA, UK, France, Italy and Germany but the main thrust is on eastern countries only.
TTW: How many international delegates and countries taking part in ITM2?
Parvez Dewan : 24 countries 68 delegates have taken part which has shown an increase than the last year.
TTW: MICE is an important revenue generator in the tourism sector. So how do you want to promote MICE in North East?
James Hogan : The government has taken decisions lately on establishing convention centers not only in North East but throughout India and has invested more than 300 crore as included in the harmonized list. The harmonized list entitles people to get very inexpensive credit internationally. They are no longer bound by any particular kind of rate of interest and they can raise the money from various low interest channels. We hope the same take roots here in North East. The union tourism and the government are helping North East financially, helping them to get low interest rates and get some subsidies as well.
TTW: How Etihad Airways will benefit after coming into strategy partnerships with other carriers?
Parvez Dewan : The airline signed a number of new codeshare partnership agreements with other airlines around the world in its drive to establish a new business model for air travel. In 2012 the strategy boosted Etihad Airways’ revenues by $600 million.
The collaboration deals with other airlines are designed to find innovative ways to address costs and work on synergies such as aircraft and engine sourcing and maintenance.
The airline also holds equity investments in airberlin, Air Seychelles, Virgin Australia, Aer Lingus and, subject to regulatory approval, will acquire 24 per cent of India’s Jet Airways.
TTW: To have proper MICE hub in North East there should be some improvements made in the commutation and communication in North East. As the transportation is concerned what is your take on this?
Parvez Dewan : Connectivity is now not a problem. Guwahati, Imphal and Dimapur already have airports and moreover there are helicopter services in North East and some more helipad stations are to be installed in parts of North Eastern states. Even Gangtok is likely to get an airport soon.
TTW: What is the source of revenue generator for North East states pre or post ITM?
Parvez Dewan : International Tourism Mart aims to drive in global travellers but tourism in here is mainly domestic. We have 1.05 billion domestic travellers where as we have 6.65 million international travellers. The ratio proves that domestic tourism is the main strength of tourism here. Moreover, we are trying to welcome more and more domestic tour operators here in North East. By third ITM, I feel there will be 20 domestic buyers from Gujarat, Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata as these are the biggest source of tourist and for North East Calcutta is the primary source. The actual figures will surface by 31st march 2014.
TTW: What are initiatives taken by tourism to promote north India as a cultural paradise to the global travellers?
Parvez Dewan : The cultural ministry and Incredible India are working in harmony to promote India as a cultural paradise.