Thu, 19 Sep, 2019

GITM should have been planned in advance, says tourism trade

Although the tourism trade is happy that the State Government will be organising GITM after five years, but they think that the event should have been planned much in advance. If more time was given for its planning, it would have helped tour operators, hoteliers and other stakeholders to think of strategies for the upcoming season itself

26th August 2019, 02:32 Hrs

Karan Sehgal  

Most tourism stakeholders agree that the State needs an event like Goa International Travel Mart (GITM), which is expected to happen from October 23 to 25 at Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Stadium in Taleigao.  

However, they are not happy with the approach the State Government has taken to do an event like GITM. For starters, they think that GITM should have been planned much in advance. There is logic in their argument because November is when the tourism season begins and the second half of October is when GITM will happen.  

Given that, it is unlikely that GITM will give a boost to the tourism business from this season itself. If at all it brings business, it will be from the season of the next year, 2020 and not this year.  

Savio Messias, president, Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), said, “We told the government to hold  GITM next year because a lot of planning is needed for an event like this. If you want people from overseas to come to GITM, you have to fix dates well in advance.”  

Ernest Dias, chief operating officer, Sita Travels and TCI, said, “Tour operators sign contracts eight months in advance of the actual date of travel. It’s a good idea to have GITM, but I think the government should have given all of us more time for planning for an event of this scale.”  

The government has announced that GITM will bring tourism buyers from countries like the US, the UK, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Malaysia etc.  

However, local players say that it would have been better if the government had allowed more time to foreign traders to plan its strategies for GITM. Another concern is that World Travel Mart (WTM), which is the biggest tourism event, is going to happen in London from November 4 to 6.  

Since the dates of GITM and WTM are close, some players may find it difficult to come to GITM. If they have to choose one event. They are likely to go to WTM, which is a bigger event.  

Messias continued, “WTM in London is going to happen within 2-3 weeks of GITM. We told the government to change the dates, but they have gone ahead with their decision.”  

There is no doubt that an event like GITM, which brings a significant number of tourism players from all over the world, has the potential to be beneficial for Goa’s tourism trade. There are people, who have benefited a lot from GITM when it happened last time.  

Polly D’Cruz, General Manager, The Golden Crown Hotel & Spa in Colva, said, “We had participated when GITM happened in 2014. We had got a very good response at our stall then. With the help of GITM, even those running franchises of 2 to 3 hotels were able to get in touch with foreign travel agents.”  

“If not for GITM, no one in foreign countries will know that smaller properties also exist in Goa because they are solely concerned with big hospitality brands. Thanks to GITM, we were able to build relationships. In fact, we are still in touch with some of the agents we had met at GITM in 2014,” he said.   

The tourism industry is also baffled that the State Government did not have GITM more frequently. The first two editions of GITM happened in 2011 and 2014. But after that, there was no word of GITM, as if everyone had forgotten about it.  

The question is: Why didn’t the government think it was worthwhile to do an event like GITM earlier? Kerala does a travel mart once in two years. A more structured approach towards GITM will help not only the tourism stakeholders but also Goa as a destination.  

Jack Sukhija, member, TTAG, said, “A travel mart is needed for Goa. So, GITM is a good idea. I think it should happen once every two years.”  

Another concern is that stakeholders don’t think that Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Stadium in Taleigao is the right venue for GITM. They think it should happen in a big resort, which is sea facing so that foreign agents understand the experience of staying in Goa as a tourist.  

A hotelier, who did not wish to be named, said, “The government must improve the infrastructure in the State. Who would like to see dug-up roads and filth on beaches? If the international press sees it, Goa is only going to get a bad name. Roads have to be repaired and beaches have to be cleaned before GITM.”  

He continued, “If the government wants to make GITM a success, it has to bring the biggest travel agents from India and abroad to Goa. It will also have to ensure that those agents must have a track record of bringing tourists to the State.”  

Clearly, a lot of work has to be done to present Goa as an ideal destination for people from around the world, who will be visiting GITM. The State Government needs to have a clear policy towards GITM and must also give sufficient time to stakeholders to plan for an event of this nature and scale.  

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