The 7th convention of the Association of Domestic Tour Operators of India held in the temple town of Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh from April 8 to 11 was significant in more ways than one.
For one, it brought into focus the importance of domestic travel, with the slogan, see the country, know the country, and tap the potential.
What is more significant was the fact that this was more than wishful thinking – it was backed by a commitment of no less a person than Vinod Zutshi, Secretary for the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. Funds are being earmarked for the promotion of tourism within the country – long felt a need by agents and states.
An important session was devoted to spelling out places of interest in and around already known tourist places, so that travelers can spend more time in these areas which will benefit the destinations as well as expand offerings for travelers. As ADTOI President Jyoti Kapur said, product development was the need of the hour, as is the growth of infrastructure, such as roads.
Hopefully, imaginative packages will be evolved around Khajuraho, which has some great 1000-year-old temples, with much art, history, culture, and devotion. So far, the temples were mainly in focus among international tourists, largely because of some erotic carvings, which are done in an artistic manner. These carvings simply highlight the holistic approach of the best of civilization.
More trains and plane services have improved connectivity, but more needs to be done, and Madhya Pradesh Tourism, which is actively promoting the heart of India, however, the ADTOI, and the local people and officials are keen that people visit places near Khajuraho, such as the town of Orchha and Panna National Park, so that all may benefit.
On another level, the convention helped to reinvent and rebrand the association itself, after it went through a spell of internal problems. The Khajuraho event left no doubt that in the days to come, domestic tourism is a word which will be heard more and more, even as inbound tourism will get its due for foreign exchange and other benefits.