OTM 2019 Concludes On A High Note With Participation of 55 Countries, 29 Indian States, 1,050 Exhibitors and 15,000+ Visitors

OTM has become the gateway to India’s 22 million outbound travellers and a billion-strong domestic travel market that it represents, writes Priyaankaa Mathur.


OTM Mumbai has emerged as the largest travel trade show in Asia-Pacific, with the participation of 55 Countries, 29 Indian States and more than 1,050 exhibitors and 15,000+ visitors, exhibiting at the Bombay Exhibition Centre from January 23 to 25, this year.

An impressive array of senior ministers from India and other countries addressed the OTM Inaugural on the broader themes of celebrating innovation in travel. The three-day tradeshow was inaugurated by Hon. Anil Kumarsingh GAYAN, SC, M.P., Hon’ble Minister of Tourism, Government of Mauritius; Satpal Maharaj, Hon’ble Minister for Tourism, Government of Uttarakhand; H.E. Panos Kalogeropoulos, Ambassador of Greece; Thoyyib Mohamed, MD, Maldives Tourism; Dr. Raden Sigit Witjaksono, Director, Ministry of Tourism, Republic of Indonesia. The Hon’ble Minister of State for Tourism (Independent Charge) K J Alphons was the Chief Guest on the second day.

Sanjiv Aggarwal Founder Director Fairfest media began the occasion with his welcome address by saying, “This year OTM has participation from 55 countries, 29 Indian states, 1,050 exhibitors along with colourful destination presentations representing various cultures, food and lots more to offer to the travel Fraternity. Today, India is not only a leisure tourism destination but is also becoming a spiritual destination, which makes OTM not only a meeting place of minds but also a meeting place for souls.”

Satpal Maharaj, Hon’ble Minister for Tourism, Government of Uttarakhand said "Uttarakhand has several known and lesser-known destinations for the adventure lovers. 2018 was celebrated as an Adventure Tourism year by Ministry of Tourism and Rishikesh was decided as the adventure capital of India. 25th -26th  February we are organising a yoga festival in Uttrakhand. We had 28 lakh spiritual travellers to Kedarnath in 2018 and Prime Minister Modi himself has been to the temple that helped increase more tourism to the state.”

Maharaj further announced soon to be launched circuits namely 'Panch -Shiv', Panch- Vishnu','Nav-Graha', 'Nagraj', 'Mahabharata' and 'Buddhist' circuits in the state. He further talked about the Deen Dayan Upadhyaya Grameen Paryatan Yojna that has been launched to promote tourism in the state. The Scheme grants loans on services, activities and equipment for stargazing, cycles which further invites investors to the state's tourism.

 The Hon’ble Minister of State for Tourism (Independent Charge) K J Alphons, said in his address, “Tourism is about making the world a better place, so when people leave India they take our culture, values, spirituality with them. In terms of amount of money spent by international tourists in India and earning revenue that is around 34 billion dollars that comes to 2.5 lakh crores, in the last four years of the Modi government there have been 82 million people in the tourism sector and during the last four years, it has generated 13.92 million jobs in the country, so we are the biggest job creators in this sector. We have seen about 200% tourism arrival growth in the last few years, if we talk about the global growth rate, revenues are going to be 19.2 %. I am still not happy because I believe India has immense potential and we should be able to double these figures in 3 years, time.”

“From the point of equity it has been a fantastic year because tourism sector provides employment to people from all the categories right from uneducated, undergraduates, graduates, and doctorates, since a bulk of people are from the rural areas who are uneducated and are still able to earn their living with the sector,” added Alphons.

He further emphasized on counting on our strengths and moving ahead, “We are working on things like cruise, film, religious and adventure tourism and these are the areas where we think India has a huge potential. India has 4 Airports in the cities Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore, which are in the list of ten best airports of the world. Some of our luxury hotels happen to be amongst the best luxury hotels of the world, while our palace on wheels and the other trains provide ultimate luxury on wheels experiences, and 70% of the Himalayas is in India, But how many people know about all that. We have many mind-blowing architectural wonders other than the Taj, but people hardly know about them. Our Indian Music, textile, handlooms, food, dances, spirituality, I think everything has so much to be explored and we should invite the whole world to come and see it. I want these numbers to double in the next three years because we deserve it and that will enable us to provide more jobs to our people.”

OTM provided travel professionals with an opportunity to showcase their business at one of the largest travel source markets in the world. This yearly trade show is a unique opportunity to connect with key travel players across Asia. These include National and State Tourism Organisations, Hotels, Airlines, Destination Marketing Companies and other suppliers serving leisure as well as MICE markets. Country pavilions were set up by Indonesia, Thailand, Greece, Nepal, Taiwan, Korea, Philippines, Maldives, Japan, Macao, Palestine, Tanzania, Cambodia, New Zealand, Egypt, Rwanda, Italy, Mauritius, China, Cyprus, Bahrain, Kenya, Romania, Fiji, Botswana, Kazakhstan and several other countries.

H.E. Panos Kalogeropoulos, Ambassador of Greece, talked about strengthening the Indo-Greek ties saying," Greece and India have a strong history and we look forward to strengthening our relations further. We feel that the Indian travellers are made for Greece, as we understand each other's psyche, this year we look forward to giving unique experiences to the Indian travellers. OTM is certainly a great showcase of the Indian tourism industry and we look forward to having a better understanding of the Indian travellers, Indian culture, cuisine and specialities of Indian states participating here and also displaying what Greece has to offer to the Indian travel trade.”

Eminent experts and leaders from the industry deliberated on the latest issues and prospects related to Domestic, Inbound, Outbound, MICE and Niche Tourism, Destination Weddings, religious Tourism, Film Tourism, Cruise Tourism and Travel Technology.

Hon. Anil Kumarsingh GAYAN, SC, M.P. Hon’ble Minister of Tourism, Government of Mauritius brought to light Mauritius being considered as a niche beach destination, but it has lots to offer like the Golf courses, sea-based adventure, and celebration of Indian festivals like Maha-Shivratri as Mauritius since the country has a huge Indian population. “Mauritius already have direct connectivity from all major Indian cities and we are trying to get more access between India and Mauritius. We have Indian cuisine and Indians have all the reasons to be in Mauritius. I feel OTM is doing a great job to sell what the tourism sector has to offer,” said Kumarsingh.

Dr. Raden Sigit Witjaksono, Director, Ministry of Tourism, Republic of Indonesia highlighted on Indonesia –India diplomatic ties by saying "Indonesia and India have a very close relationship from a long time ago and not only from the government side but Business side since we have some 38 industries. India is a great market for Indonesia and from January to November 2018, we had 530,000 visitors from India and are challenging to have 700,000 visitors from India this year. We are trying to explore relations with neighbouring countries like Singapore and Malaysia to promote Indonesia too as part of the tourism hub in South East Asia region."

Thoyyib Mohamed, MD, Maldives Tourism emphasised on India being a very potential market for Maldives, "We look forward to promoting Maldives tourism in India since we have great connectivity to Maldives from India as it's only a 3 hours journey and Maldives can be a weekend getaway for Indians. We have budget airlines flying from Mumbai to the Maldives. The Maldives is considered as a niche segment but we want to sell it to everybody. I think OTM is a great platform to have some great interactions of ideas and networking sessions. India is a very good market for us and we have had 76,000 tourists that have contributed to 5% in our tourism growth last year."

Philippines is indeed a paradise for adventure lovers as the destinations offer a  variety of activities across segments like MICE, Nature, Adventure and Marine Tourism to the Indian travellers in 2019, while it happens to be a very affordable country makes it an excellent shopping destination too. Indeed a diver’s paradise Philippines is rated as one of the best diving destinations of the world, that unfolds exotic white, yellow, red and brown coloured sand beaches.

Nerissa D. Del Fierro- Juan Division Chief (TPB) the Philippines talking about tourism promotions in India said, “India is an important market for us and last year we welcomed close to 130,000 Indian tourist arrivals to the Philippines. We have seen 21% growth over the last years, this year we are looking at around 30%. This year we are targeting more and are applying more strategic marketing campaigns to attract more tourists. We have been to Ahmedabad for our sales mission in India, and then will be going to Kolkata and then Delhi. OTM Mumbai has given us a very good response especially the Private sectors. Philippines is focussing on Adventure, culture and MICE segments this year. We have a lot of global brands and hotels in Philippines ideal for MICE not just in Manila but also across other provinces that have state of the art convention facilities.”

 Majed Ishaq, Director General Marketing, State of Palestine, Ministry of Tourism & Antiquities elaborates on promoting pilgrimage tourism to Palestine, " We had more than 100,000 only in the city of Bethlem and besides that our cities Jerusalem Christians are coming and we expect at least 20% from the Indian market our most important segments being pilgrimages for Christians and Muslims and also the cultural and historical significance of the cities like Jerusalem is 11000 years old. Hopefully, we will have our own borders and then we will have everybody come. We don’t have any procedure for Visa you can take a VISA to Israel and then can come to Palestine without any permission. India is an important market for us and we are trying to invest in the Indian market for many reasons and because we have very good traffic from India to Palestine.”

The land of mysteries Egypt is known for many interesting stories about the pyramids as it was not a burial place alone but happened to be a place to generate power. Ismail A. Hamid Amer Regional Director Egypt Tourism draws more light on the Egyptian mysteries “So, pyramids are still disclosing more mysteries, as per the recent researches we have found a lot of hidden powers in the areas surrounding the pyramids, which include some very huge voids inside the pyramids which were discovered by the infrared rays. While the Abu Simbel Temple is another mysterious place famous for its architectural mastery or it is a mystery when a ray of light travels inside the dark chamber and enlightens only three statues leaving behind the statue of the God of Devil. Egypt is just the place to be for those who love to explore the history, heritage and culture of a destination. I can say that Egypt is a complete destination which offers everything.”

Coming back to the trade Amer said “OTM is one of the best shows and it’s a very good start for the tourism season. We have received a good response from visitors, trade and exhibitors as well. We are very happy because the market has grown very well, and in 2017 we had 130,000 tourists which gave us 30% growth.”

Kenya tourism has a lot of exciting offers for the Indian travellers like a free VISA for children under 16 years of age, or visitors may get surprised with free spas, free accommodations, or an on-board airline upgrade. Ms.Jacinta Nzioka –Mbithi, Kenya Tourism Director Market Development said, “Since Kenya is a mystical place, so we want our visitors to experience the mystery about the place too. Kenya has a host of adventure experiences like Mount Kenya Hiking, Safaris, Trekking, Horse riding and a lot of marine activities, along with cultural diversity of 22 tribes to explore culture, cuisines, handlooms, and lots more.”

“For Kenya India is a growing market that has grown from 60000 to 125000, and still has great potential. We have great connectivity from India i.e the Mumbai to Nairobi flights of 6 and a half hours. We look forward to tapping Bollywood directors to Kenya. We have also incorporated with other African countries like Uganda to have a combined literary with multiple entry VISA, since our products complement, so you visit one continent and explore three countries in a combination. Also, MICE is another segment which we want to tap,” added Mbithi.

Film tourism is an excellent vehicle for destination marketing and presents opportunities for destination development, new product development opportunities, such as location tours, film museums, exhibitions and theming of existing tourist attractions with a film connection. With the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India by its side, OTM 2019 saw active participation from the Ministry not only in sponsoring the Hosted Buyers from abroad to visit the show, it also supported the Cine Tourism Workshop on an inaugural day.

 The ‘CineLocales’ area was created in the show as a marketplace for connecting the world’s largest filmmaking community to include film, television and advertising professionals and production houses to global destinations and locations. Around 50+ top production houses like Yash Raj Films, Dharma Productions, Viacom and many others were invited to visit CineLocales, wherein a report on promoting film tourism within India which was sponsored by OTM and prepared by Ernst & Young (EY) was released during the show.

Greece is looking at promoting Greek islands and invites Bollywood Filmmakers to the destination informed Mr. Tsegas Konstantinos General Secretary GNTO, Greece, “Greece offers all kinds of segments like weddings in Santorini and has a vast landscape to explore from North to South and East to West. We are looking at tapping on Bollywood filmmakers to explore Greek destinations to shoot Indian films. Also, Greece has exotic Gastronomy and state of the art MICE infrastructure from 5 Star hotel properties to the convention centres that are yet to be explored by the Indian market, and we want to talk to Indian tour operators to come together to promote MICE to Greece. VISA is not a problem and the Greek embassy is in talks with a private company for VISA facilitation.”

Among the Indian States, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Manipur, Sikkim, Chandigarh, Puducherry, Jharkhand, Lakshadweep, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Haryana, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Nagaland, Tripura and Delhi who participated at OTM this year.

Gevin Dias General Manager GTDC Ltd., “Goa is a 365-day destination and in terms of segmentation also goa is a 360 degrees destination. OTM is a well-organised platform and we have been participating in it for many years and have received a tremendous response. This year the response from trade is so good that we had to get some additional space, also we received some very serious buyers.”

Other marquee exhibitors at OTM 2019 include Travel Boutique Online, Bangkok Tourism Division - Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, Ezeego1.Com, Tokyo International Airport, Kuwait Airways, Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau, Hotel & Restaurant Association of Bhutan, Trance Holiday and others. Alongside buying and selling opportunities on the show floor, exhibitors from various countries and states also slated to make cultural presentations.

Ajit Barot Specialist Marketing & Communications Kuwait Airways, said “We are very pleased to be at OTM 2019, it seems to be a very well managed and organised exhibition, there is a lot of buzz around and we are looking forward to new markets. India is a big market for us and we fly to seven cities Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Trivandrum and Cochin.We are getting the kind of connections that we are looking at. We are hopefully are looking forward to starting flights from Kuwait to Gonzo, Baku and we have already started flights from Kuwait to Milan.”

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