November 22, 2017
 

Irene Susan Eapen

The Adventure Tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI) organised its 13th annual convention from 18-21 September 2017 at the Backwater Ripples Kumarakom, Kerala. The four-day event was around the theme ‘Emerging Pathways’. It was inaugurated on 19 September by Kadakampally Surendran, Minister of Tourism, Govt. of Kerala, along with Satyajeet Rajan, Director General Tourism, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India and Dr. Venu V, IAS, Principal Secretary Tourism, Government of Kerala; ATOAI’s Office Bearers - Capt. Swadesh KumarPresident- ATOAI, , Rajesh Ojha- Hony Secretary- ATOAI, Ajeet Bajaj- Sr. Vice President- ATOAI, Tejbir Singh Anand Vice President – ATOAI, Vaibhav Kala Hony. Treasurer- ATOAI and Executive members of ATOAI including Vishwas Makhija, Vinayak Kaul, Shashank Gupta, Sanjay Basu, Mohan Tickoo, Anirudh Chaoji, Akshay Kumar and convention committee members like Commander Sam T Samuel and Pradeep Murthy.

The event witnessed over 300 delegates with representatives from 16 states. There were panel discussions on changing trends, Emerging Pathways & Creative Partnerships, marketing adventure travel and GST practical application in adventure travel.

Rajesh Ojha said, “The adventure tourism business working in the rural area is aiming adventure for financial and environmental roads. In this context, adventure travel is an excellent means through which the local community can generate revenue, create jobs and have the environment protected. Our policy planners need to understand that adventure travel is found as a mentality different from other sectors in tourism; its economic structure, modes of investment and the request for service providers and buyers are radically different.”

Capt. Swadesh Kumar says,” The concept of adventure tourism has gone through a drastic change; we have been an active association working with the government and other bodies. Adventure tourism is growing at a faster pace in this country with almost 30% in the domestic market and 10% in the incoming arrivals. We are very confident that the business of adventure tourism will grow in the next three years by 100%, which is the target. In India, this mostly exists in the unorganized sector. In the next three months, we are looking forward to having an addition of 2000 members and a 40% increase in our verticals, as we want to support all the verticals of adventure tourism.

The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India has accepted the recommendation to declare 2018 as the Year of Adventure Travel in India which is a great initiative for adventure tourism. We will have activities lined up for 18 months including international roadshows in USA, Australia and Japan to market adventure activities. We are planning to organise a Mega India Adventure Tourism Summit in Delhi in April 2018, apart from seminars in states. We will invite the Adventure Travel Trade Association for Adventure Next Event in December 2018 and we are also planning to bid for PATA Adventure Travel Mart February 2019 to be hosted in one of the Himalayan states. We are planning to launch adventure tourism in each every town and ensure they have their own association.”

Jose Dominic, MD & CEO, CGH Earth Group, explains, “The golden age of adventure is about to come and Kerala now awaits adventure. The greatest opportunity you have for operators like you is in Kerala. Kerala Tourism began in the early 1990s. The growth in Kerala from the mid-90s for the next 25 years is almost a miracle.” Kadakampally Surendran quoted, “After this convention, India will now agree Kerala is an ideal adventure tourism destination and Kerala is rightly India’s most happening travel destination. The tourism industry is also changing rapidly and going beyond the historical monuments and temples and modern science, with the increasing of the place preference like hills, waterfalls, forests through indulging in adventure activities such as trekking and wildlife safaris and paragliding, etc.

Considering the safety of tourists, Kerala tourism has released several safety guidelines for adventure tour operators in tune with the international standards and post discussions with the various departments.” Dr. Venu V stated, “We are proud and honoured to partner with ATOAI Convention. Activity and adventure will be the mantra for Kerala Tourism for the next few months. Over the next two years, we are targeting in getting 5000 visitors who will come here for pure adventure and incorporate adventure activities for at least 25%.”

P Bala Kiran, IAS, Director- Kerala Tourism, “We believe we are in a critical juncture that we need to re-brand ourselves before facing our challenges in adventure. This year for the first time, Kerala Tourism has crossed 1 million tourist arrivals in our state. We believe adventure and activity is here to stay in Kerala.We have already started promoting Kerala as an adventure destination through 'Yalla Kerala Campaign'.

This year we are investing 3.25 crores in Malabar cruise tourism in North Kerala. We are also launching the Kannur International Airport soon.” Satyajeet Rajan said, “People used to think earlier adventure is only in the Himalayas but there is adventure all across the country.”

The delegates also experienced the backwaters of the Vembanad Lake during a stopover at the Vaikom Jetty and visited the beautiful Vembanad Lake Villas.

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