Devendra Fadnavis, Chief Minister of Host State Maharashtra, who also holds charge of the tourism portfolio in the state, will be the Chief Guest at the Inauguration on February 4. His agreeing to attend OTM Mumbai is as an indicator of the importance, which the Government of Maharashtra is attaching to the development of promotion of tourism in the state.
It will also be another feather in the cap of OTM, India’s biggest travel trade show. Activities and initiatives have heated up in the state, with the two month old government taking up a slew of initiatives and projects to boost the tourism industry in the state, which should result in Maharashtra finally beginning to take its rightful place on the tourism map of the country. Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) has a sizeable presence in OTM Mumbai, along with a large number of private sector operators as co-exhibitors in the Maharashtra Pavilion.
Close to a thousand travel-product sellers from over 50 countries are exhibiting at the show. Over 10,000 buyers from the travel industry are expected to visit the three-day event.
Mumbai is the biggest travel market in India, accounting for about a third of all outbound and domestic trips.
With strong hinterland markets in the West and South India, for which it is the preferred port of departure for international trips, Mumbai accounts for about a third of all Outbound trips from India.
Maharashtra is also the top inbound destination state as a whole, attracting about a fifth of all foreign visits in India.
OTM is a three-day exhibition and conference of the travel industry.
The largest country pavilions in OTM are from Turkey, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Egypt, Nepal, Philippines, Macau, China, Argentina, Japan, Bangladesh, Oman, Seychelles, Jordan, Bhutan, Czech Republic, Romania, Taiwan, New Zealand, Mexico and Dubai. Exhibitors from several other countries are also participating.
The biggest state participations are from Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Gujarat, Kerala, Daman&Diu, Karnataka, Punjab, Goa, Jammu&Kashmir and Maharashtra. Many more states are also represented.
Some of the other big sellers at OTM are Taj, Best Western, Sri Lankan Airlines, Tata Motors, Mahindra&Mahindra, Adlabs Imagica, Ark Travels and Heena Holidays. OTM will also see for the first time a big participation by Adventure Tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI) in an Adventure Tourism Pavilion comprising operators specializing in adventure tourism.
Apart from Leisure Travel, OTM has a substantial segment on Business Travel&MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions related travel), which is being presented as a show-in-show called BTM.
Travel Technology is one of the fastest growing areas within the travel industry that is fast evolving to cater to the Internet generation. Gone are the days of the friendly travel agent in the neighborhood one would walk to. Business is more and more online. This has led to sophisticated travel technology solutions for the agents and consumers alike, which will be on display at the OTM.
Another interesting segment at the OTM displays latest vehicles for the travel industry.
Apart from the exhibits, there are conferences, seminars, panel discussions and product presentations by experts from the travel industry.
OTM’s Top 100 Travel Producers Award is being instituted from this year. It is only of its kind, to give travel producers in India an annual opportunity to celebrate success and, more importantly, to highlight the important role they contribute to the travel industry. The awards will be presented every year during the OTM in February at Mumbai - India's largest source market for outbound and domestic travel. The nomination to the award is restricted to travel producers based in India, with high buying potential of Outbound or Domestic products for their Indian clientele.
Kuoni, focusing on its core business as a service provider to the global travel industry, has partnered with OTM for the first time to organize a Knowledge Series on the Future of Tourism. The three-day series will focus on analyzing the future trends, especially in the context of markets in developing world. Speaking on the collaboration, Rajeev Wagle, Managing Director Kuoni India, said “Through Knowledge Series 2015 by Kuoni experts, we hope to bring forth a highly informative and unique opportunity for industry leaders to contribute to a constructive dialogue on the future of sustainable tourism.”
OTM-Kuoni Knowledge Series being held for the first time is devoted to mastering the challenges and opportunities within the travel industry. It will have sessions by Kuoni India's experts to discuss best practices and what future expertise and research could bring to new age travel especially for the fast-growing emerging markets. The event will bring together some of the most influential thinkers to discuss new approaches and will serve as a direct exchange between the various businesses in the tourism industry and will facilitate the exchange of ideas and insights.
The knowledge series will focus on the topics of Corporate Travel, MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions) and Luxury Travel (see detailed programme attached).
The travel and tourism industry is likely to receive a new public policy push, as per the BJP’s manifesto. The sector is receiving increasing recognition by the new government as having high potential of foreign exchange earnings and other economic benefits. The recently implemented Visa-on-arrival and eVisa systems are pointers in this direction.
“OTM showcases the huge market potential of Indian tourists”, said Sanjiv Agarwal, CMD of Fairfest Media and Editor and Publisher of Travel News Digest.
OTM 2015 is quickly followed by TTF Delhi, from 10 to 12 February 2015, at the swanky Thyagaraj Sports Complex located near INA Market. Many of the international and domestic participants of OTM Mumbai also participate in the TTF, considering the vastness of the Indian market.
Fairfest Media Ltd pioneered the travel trade shows in India, in 1989. Since then, it has remained the market leader, presently commanding some 48% of all India market share. Apart from OTM, it organizes TTF (Travel&Tourism Fair), in 10 cities annually.
Fairfest Media also publishes monthly industry journal Travel News Digest (TND), which spearheaded a campaign addressed to the Governments in India, to promote tourism as the next big idea, on the lines of IT industry. It recommended measures like Visa on Arrival, e-Visa and lower taxation for hotels. The campaign caught the attention of the then Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, who made it a part of his election manifesto.
Recently, Fairfest Media has ventured into the online hotels booking space. Fairstays.com, billed as the Future of Online Hotel Bookings is launched at the OTM. “Fairstays.com is a very innovative online hotel booking engine, offering general consumers hotels at guaranteed low wholesale prices. It is like a fair-price shop for hotel bookings. The plans include a very innovative bidding system for individual and group bookings”, said Sanjiv Agarwal, Founder and interim CEO of the venture.