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INTERVIEW: eTN speaks with India Tourism Minister


The tourism industry in India is growing rapidly. The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) calculated that tourism generated 6.4 trillion rupees or 6.6% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012, supporting 39.5 million jobs, 7.7% of total employment. In addition, growth is expected in the entire sector at an average annual rate of 7.9% from 2013 to 2023. This gives India the third place among the countries with the fastest-growing tourism industries in the next decade.

This constant economic growth in technological times has brought the government to the decision to review the large network of India Tourism structures operating on obsolete concepts. Hence, this led to the implementation of new marketing strategies aimed at a management model that favors costs cutting without penalizing efficiency and corporate image.

As a result, The Indian Tourism Authority has implemented these market operational strategies by closing various locations in Europe (not only) entering a new epochal operational phase.

A clarification on the ongoing was requested of the Indian Tourism Minister, Alphons Joseph Kannanthanam (Alphons JK), in order to dispel the question marks that members of the Italian travel trade began to formulate at the first signs of the closure of the Italian-based office in Milan.

On the occasion of the first meeting with the minister at the recent Kerala Travel Mart premises held in Cochin, an interview appointment was agreed to by the minister which would be held in his Delhi office where the Hon. Alphons JK made himself available, answering all questions willingly.

Here, eTurboNews Italian Ambassador, Mario Masciullo, shares the interview:

eTN: With regard to the closing of India Tourism offices in Europe, Italy is one of them, what has made your government to take said decision?

Minister: In our technological time, we retain obsolete the need to serve certain markets with the presence of manpower. The website services have proved to be efficient and faster. We do not really need to be physcally present everywhere, and we can implement the system almost everywhere in the world.

Our plans foresee that the servicing of the “off-line” countries shall be coordinated by senior qualified officers with good experience based in Frankfurt, Germany, the European headquarter responsible for the Italian and other european markets. In the far east, we have an office in Singapore. We also have an offfice in China, a huge outbound market. This will be good enough.

eTN: As you know, the last India Tourism reprentative in Milan, Mr. Gangadhar, has done a real big job in developing the image of India in Italy during his 4-year mandate. We feel that the closing of the office will cause some oblivion of the product by the travel trade and the consumer. The italians are particular, they feel they must talk to someone and feel the nearness.

Minister: Yes, I am aware of the sentiment of people. We will give to them enough opportunities and time to touch and feel. To start with, I am going on a roadshow in Italy. I will be in Roma and Milan towards the end of October, an opportunity to meet people and show our continuous nearness.

eTN: Can you tell more about the 9 national awards that Kerala bagged this current year?

Minister: Kerala has always been in the front of tourism even though they are not first in terms of numbers. In revenue they are doing extremely well. In terms of innovation and ideas, Kerala is a great organization, it is almost driven by the private sector, this is what it should be. The government gives the encouragement to make it possible and then the private sector proceeds very strong.

Now looking back to the monsoon floods, within a month, all destinations are back into activity and functioning very well, completely ready.
This is but one of the awards bagged by Kerala Tourism, all based on efficiency and productivity.

eTN: Which are the 9 must-see destinations developed in Asia mentioned by yourself on the occasion of your opening KTM speech and related to the Malabar Kamur Airport new opening?

Minister: Everybody is talking about the Taj Mahal, but we have incredible sites like Kajurhao – a complex of 82 temples and many of them are still intact and with incredible architecture. And the Caves of Allanta and Allora, Sarna – the first place where Buddha pronounced his first sermon, mountaineering hardcore, plus adventure, ayurveda, and yoga. The Temple of the Sun is a fantastic architecture which I keep thinking about how they ever made it.

There are 300 forts in Maharastra, some of them are on the sea, and then the palaces of Rajastan, the luxury hotels – palaces converted into luxury hotels in Rajastan, the train journeys, for example, the Palace on Wheels and the Maharastra train. We have 5 of these trains covering top attraction Indian destinations taking over one week to explore. Different destinations, and land and mountain trekking are the most enchanting journeys that one can ever imagine, and more!

eTN: Next month in November, a team of documentary film operators from the Italian RAI/TV Corp. will be hosted by Kerala Tourism to shoot in areas of interest and present the documentary film in the Kilimangiaro RAI Sunday travel program. Would it be an opportunity to extend the shooting to more destinations?

Minister: Whatever support you need to add to new destinations, we will help out.
eTN: On the subject of the news in the India press regarding the goverment’s proposal to supply to the Indian transgenders an ID card, do you think that this could be considered a discrimination by the LGBT world organization, while the recent Indian law on LGBT officializes the outing of this category of citizen?

Minister: India has no problem with anybody. I said earlier at the KTM we do not look at the sex of other. Let them all come and have a great time in India. The news much divulgated in India and gone around the world is we welcome anyone. The government considers the right of people to live in dignity and is declared open to host them all. No dicrimination at all – we are supporting them.

eTN: Much talk has circulated in Italy about Air India merging or closing down due to its supposedly bad economy; what is the truth about this?

Minister: This is fake news. Italy is a good destination for us. The operation of Air India to Italy is there to stay!

Alphons Joseph Kannanthanam (born August 8, 1953) is an Indian civil servant, advocate, and politician. He is currently serving as the Union Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, Culture, and Tourism, and has been in office since September 3, 2017 under the B.J.P. Government of Narendra Modi, one of the two major political parties in India.

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About the author

Mario Masciullo - eTN Italy

Mario is a veteran in the travel industry.
His experience extends worldwide since 1960 when at the age of 21 he started exploring Japan, Hong Kong, and Thailand.
Mario has seen the World Tourism develop up to date and witnessed the
destruction of the root/testimony of the past of a good number of countries in favor of modernity/progress.
During the last 20 years Mario's travel experience has concentrated in South East Asia and of late included the Indian Sub Continent.

Part of Mario's work experience includes multi activities in the Civil Aviation
field concluded after organizing the kik off of for Malaysia Singapore Airlines in Italy as an Institutor and continued for 16 years in the role of Sales /Marketing Manager Italy for Singapore Airlines after the split of the two governments in October 1972.

Mario's official Journalist license is by the "National Order of Journalists Rome, Italy in 1977.