Exhibition space has evolved with stronger stakeholder participation: Nikhil Desai

We interacted with Nikhil Desai, MD, GTDC to understand what drives states towards exhibitions. Beside trying to decipher trends in the dynamic landscape of exhibitions in the tourism industry, domestically and world over, we understand from him what is in store in the exhibition space, in the imminent future, as exhibition players look at ‘upping the ante’ to grab a larger pie in a crowded market place.

Nikhil Desai-MDWhat are the most critical factors that Goa looks at when deciding to participate in exhibitions, domestic and international?

Goa is a much sought-after destination by tourists both national and international. Tourists in India visit Goa all through the year especially from neighbouring Maharashtra and Karnataka.  Goa also has a strong appeal from tourists in North India and from the South, in addition to all other States in the country. Goa Tourism therefore takes part in all leading national tourism exhibitions and fairs to showcase its facets in each of the markets along with specific areas of interest for each of the domestic segments.  Goa is getting good response from Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Delhi, Chennai and other domestic segments which had made Goa a 365-day family holiday destination. Likewise, as far as international markets, Goa has an overwhelming response from Russia, UK, Scandinavian countries, Middle East, South East Asia and many other European   countries. Goa Tourism participates in key tourism fairs and exhibitions held internationally in a bid to maintain it’s connect with these destinations. However, it is also tapping new destinations in a bid to woo new visitors and is also creating awareness about the E-tourist Visa regime which is in force in India and a facility available at the Goa international airport, Dabolim.

Participation in tourism fairs and exhibitions has started reaping dividends and this is evident from the fact that the footfalls have increased from both the domestic and international segments. In 2016, Goa received over 6 million tourists. We have arrivals by charter flights, luxury cruise vessels, scheduled flights, FITs and so son.  Our marketing and promotion of tourism products and services has appealed tourists all across the globe and we have tourists visiting Goa to enjoy its various facets be it leisure tourism, adventure tourism, wedding tourism, cuisine, culture, festival tourism etc.

Goa Tourism looks at increasing the number of tourist arrivals year after year. Participation at exhibitions and travel marts gives us an opportunity to showcase our existing products and services and unveil new ones every season.

How do you see exhibition space platform evolving in the coming years? How has the multitude of players impacted the business space?

Today there is tough yet growing competition from all tourism boards in India and abroad. Earlier, there was very limited scope for expansion in terms of promotions and business activities. However, participation at travel marts and exhibitions has offered and continues to offer business space to promote tourism facets and products.

It has also helped to build a strong network amongst the tourism stakeholders, tourism experts and tourism boards. A lot of B2B sessions are conducted which acts as an effective medium for interaction and communication. Attractive stalls put up at exhibitions attract tourists from far and wide. Travel and tour operators also get an opportunity to get insights into tourism activities, packages etc which has worked well for Goa Tourism.

How can the ‘look and feel’ be improved? Are we international standard in terms of our quality and business revenues?

If you have noticed, during the last five years Goa has been on the expressway to setting new benchmarks in tourism. Whether it has been in the introduction of new products and services, to a new makeover in its marketing and promotion, the focus has been on improving the quality of every aspect across the Board. Even with regards to exhibitions and fairs, Goa Tourism has taken on board, agencies to provide top class displays at designated pavilions on both domestic and international platforms. As a result, we have been in the spotlight, bagged awards and in the long run shown to the world that we are a brand to reckon with.

Domestic and foreign tourists have shown interest in visiting Goa and this has also brought financial benefits to the State. The hospitality industry has had reason to cheer in the last two years despite several odds as visitors have opted to be in Goa, embraced the cashless initiatives and helped improve the revenues for the State. Goa has also contributed enormously to the foreign exchange earnings for the country. With a stable government at the Centre and State, tourism will be the forerunner and keep the industry vibrant in the years to come.

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