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India travel and tourism: Can a closed-door meeting help?

In India, as in perhaps some other countries, it is said that the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. And this can be crucial or worse when tourism is concerned.

So, it was music to the ears for the travel industry on August 20 when the India Tourism Minister, Prahlad Singh Patel, called for coordination and cooperation among the states, center, and other stakeholders so that tourism can take its rightful place in the country’s economy.

The minister, only a few weeks old in the job, asked the 20-plus ministers and officials to work together and have an open discussion to identify the problems and issues currently being faced by the nation’s travel and tourism industry.

Patel was speaking at the State Tourism Ministers meeting, where he spoke of a few things close to his heart – setting priorities, changing perception, and getting rid of negativity.

He stressed the need for states to be involved and take a role in tourism, but sadly, no private sector players were present – or invited – and even the media was present only at the inaugural session. After the session, participants were asked to attend a high tea at another outlet of the Ashok Hotel where the ministers met.

If the idea was to have frank discussions, one wonders what harm the media could have done – or representatives from the private sector – if the meeting could have been a vehicle to communicate what the States representatives had to say or do.
Security, safety, or heritage status for sights in the states are issues which need wider exposure, not curtailment.

Surely, it was a laudable idea to let the states speak out, but if more people had heard it, it would have had greater impact, to say the least.

In view of the closed-door nature of the conference, while the meeting itself was well organized, one wonders how much gain will come from it, if anything at all.

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