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Monday, 06 March, 2017, 16 : 00 PM [IST]

SATTE 2017 attracts overwhelming footfall

P Krishna Kumar & Akansha Pandey

The 24th annual edition of South Asia Travel and Tourism Exchange (SATTE), a B2B travel and tourism exhibition by UBM India was no doubt a bigger and better one than its previous edition in terms of footfall. With a number of trade exhibitions coming up recently, both big and niche, there is a lot of comparison happening as to which one is better and where to invest for superior returns. SATTE too probably, was facing pressure as all speculating eyes were set on this edition to declare the verdict to the comparisons. But SATTE pleasantly surprised all with a massive turnout where all those who invested in SATTE were full of praises for the same.

2017 was a record year for SATTE from the exhibitor perspective with the number increasing from 800 in 2016 to 870 this year from 40 countries, including India and 28 State Tourism Boards which exhibited their destinations and products during the three-day B2B exhibition. SATTE 2017 attracted a better footfall of trade buyers as compared to the last year. The final figures were still being audited till the time of going to the press. 200 foreign buyers were hosted this time.

However, having started off as an inbound focussed trade show, today outbound pavilion is more prominent in SATTE. The inbound pavilion hasn’t retained the same sheen it used to exhibit in its earlier days. Majority State Tourism Boards have junior staff to man the booth and distribute pamphlets. Spokespeople either come for a while or skip the show which lowers the footfall in inbound pavilions. Also, home grown hotel brands such as Taj, Leela, etc. have cornered from such trade shows as they might be finding it unfit to exhibit in a show which is more outbound focussed.

Moreover, given the explosive footfall on day two, there was a long queue all day to enter the exhibition halls which took some minutes and the wide walk-through passages seemed congested. The start-up pavilion too could have been bigger in size and more strategically placed. Also, the volunteers who are deployed for the event knew less about the whereabouts of the trade show. We firmly believe that SATTE can do better with prominent signages to assist the visitors pro-actively.

Inaugurating the exhibition and awards, Dr Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State for Tourism & Culture said that India is poised for a big leap forward in tourism with many favourable measures from the government on the policy fronts as well as on the infrastructure fronts to support that growth. Talking about the E-Tourist Visa (ETV) regime which is now extended to almost 160 countries, the Minister said that such measures show the commitment of the current government.

Vinod Zutshi, Secretary Tourism outlined that India’s growth in tourism has surpassed the global average in the last couple of years. While the international average in terms of growth was less than 4% in 2016, India registered a growth of 11% in international tourist arrivals. India offers the most liberalised ETV regime in the world today, he added. He urged the private industry to get together and work with the government to achieve future goals.

Ashwani Lohani, CMD, Air India Ltd, highlighted that the tourism sector in India has come a long way and is bound to grow bigger and better in the coming time. He recalled that there was a time during the late 1990s when India was struggling to reach 2 million foreign arrivals, which today stands close to 9 million.

“India tourism has the potential to grow by leaps and bounds given India’s increasing population, the rising middle income number and their disposable income,” he said. Outlining the importance of domestic tourism, Lohani said that there are different components to domestic tourism and it should not be just looked at as tourists coming from another state, but also pointed at the tremendous opportunity of growing intra-region tourism within the state.

In a video message to SATTE, Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General, United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), said, “Significantly, SATTE 2017 is one of the first meetings of the international tourism community in South Asia since the launch of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017 in January. Proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly, the International Year is a crucial moment to make tourism an effective and dynamic tool in building a safer, more inclusive, prosperous and sustainable world for all.”

Junichi Kumada, Senior Officer, Regional Programme for Asia and the Pacific, UNWTO, exclaimed that India as a destination has always been intriguing with a superb recall value. “Every time I visit India, I am highly impressed by its unique beauty and culture that is unparalleled in the world with such warm people, delicious Indian cuisines, rich heritage sites and its thousand years of history,” he said.

Kumada also took time to highlight key points of UNWTO’s designated ‘International Year of Sustainable Tourism 2017’, latest international tourism results and UNWTO’s priority areas such as safety and security, enhancing the role of technology and innovation in tourism and raising the sustainable agenda.

In his welcome speech, Yogesh Mudras, Managing Director, UBM India, the organisers of SATTE, said that they have been able to present a bigger show this year with the support of both international and national industry associations. Speaking on the maiden awards, Mudras exclaimed that they have received overwhelming response from the industry at the maiden awards with more than 270 entries for 18 categories, and will try to present it better in coming years. Seven Jury Members judged the entries and the entire process was validated by Ernst & Young (E&Y). From now on, this will be an annual feature along with SATTE inaugural, assured Mudras.

He also spoke about the first-ever Start-up pavilion at SATTE this year, with 10 companies exhibiting. With the Government of India focussing majorly on the Make in India campaign to boost start-up businesses, SATTE too ensured to showcase innovations in the travel segment to a global audience. This is bound to grow bigger in the years to come, he quoted.

Alongside, in a significant tie up, SKAL, a professional organisation of international tourism leaders, announced its association with UBM India to host the 78th edition of the SKAL World Congress, for the first time in India, at Hyderabad from October 5-8, 2017.

“SATTE will be celebrating its Silver Jubilee next year in 2018. The event will be held from January 31 to February 2, 2018. We aim to improve each time than the previous edition of the trade show. The best is yet to come,” said Mudras.
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