ADTOI Convention 2016 – Bringing in new hopes for a brighter tomorrow

The heart of India ‘Madhya Pradesh’ invited the Association of Domestic Tour Operators, in the land of temples Khajuraho to host their 7th Annual Convention, which was organised amidst the presence of key players of domestic tourism. The theme of this year’s convention aimed and revolved around ‘Domestic Tourism: Billion+ Opportunities’. Innumerable topics and issues were discussed during the two day convention, now what is awaited, is the plan of action. A report.

adtoi members, adtoi

What would have been a better place than Madhya Pradesh to organise a convention of Domestic Tour Operators, the people who actually knows India by heart and project them to the world, influence the world to come and witness the grandeur of the country. The 7th ADTOI Annual Convention-cum-Exhibition was organised from April 9-10, 2016 at Hotel Ramada, Khajuraho, MP.
The first day of the convention took off on a very high note in the august presence of Shri Nagendra Singh, Member Parliament, Khajuraho as the Guest of Honour; Shri Vinod Zutshi, Secretary Tourism, Govt of India; Dr Venu V, IAS, Secretary, Govt of Kerala; Smt Kavita Singh, President, Nagar Panchayat; Tanvi Sundriyal, Addl MD, Madhya Pradesh State Tourism; Jyoti Kapur, President ADTOI; Sanjay Agarwal, VP & Convention Chairman; Anurag Agarwal, General Secretary, ADTOI; Subhash Verma, Immediate Past President & Convention Co-chairman. According to Hindu mythology, any auspicious ceremony is commenced with a Ganesh Vandana and thus following the ritual, the convention was inaugurated with the lighting of the lamp followed by Ganesh Vandana.
India has a wide range to offer from the Himalayas to the back waters of Kerala. The modern India needs to be experienced and explained for a better visibility. Through this convention ADTOI is taking a step forward to promote domestic tourism in the country. Why MP as a host state? Madhya Pradesh today is a leading state and is working hand in hand with ADTOI. While addressing the gathering, Shri Nagendra Singh said, “I am happy that ADTOI decided to host their convention in Khajuraho. Our Honourable Chief Minister Shri Shivaraj Singh Chauhan is very much keen on promoting tourism in the state. There is lot of opportunities in tourism sector, it not only helps in generating employment but also contributes in the development of the country. I would not go in numbers that how many people visit India every year but would rather focus on the small countries which have developed themselves and are receiving healthy number of travellers.” Tourism is one such sector which deals with many issues, few of them are connectivity, roads, and airport connections. There is a need to emphasis on building good hotels, security, cleanliness and improve mobile connectivity as well.
Adding on, Dr Venu V in his address mentioned that the association is doing pretty well. I have watched Madhya Pradesh very carefully and they have placed their future very firmly and marketed themselves for a brighter tomorrow. He further said, “We are talking about the biggest, but it’s time to harness the domestic tourism. If you think of future, then it lies in hotel bookings, if you have knowledge you will remain in the business and ADTOI is the right forum.”
Shri Vinod Zutshi congratulated the team ADTOI for their 7th Annual Convention and for hosting it in the temple town Khajuraho as it will boost the local tourism. He further in his address highlighted the initiatives which the Ministry of Tourism is taking and laid emphasis on the regional connectivity which in order will increase the traffic in the states. Apart from this, he also stressed on the 24X7 helpline recently launched by MoT, Swach Mobile application, etc. Ministry is going to play a major role in the promotion of domestic tourism and the Ministry is working towards creating a seamless connectivity, online payments, online license, etc.

adtoi members, adtoi

 

Day 1
The first session of the day was focused on ‘Domestic Tourism: Managing the next billion’. There is a major change in the thought process these days. Festivals such as Japan Literature Festival have been able to act as a major catalyst to attract tourists to the destination. We need to change as per time and create euphoria which proceeds to be a major attraction. The country is huge and each destination is unique, there is a need to enhance experiences and create experiences as well. During the session, it was also discussed that the need of the hour is to ‘create ideas and what extra edge can be provided’. Travelling now has changed, as it was five-six years back, niche tourism products are really doing wonders. One of the speakers also mentioned that all of us need to work collectively and together, whenever dealing with clients an extra edge needs to be provided. And minutest of the things should be taken care of in order to travel smooth. Well, the other speaker emphasised that wedding today is another major key player and it’s huge. Weddings will always give opportunity, so there is a need to build the market in order to promote destination wedding. Through this session, the gathering was enlightened on how to manage business; management is all about what we have today. We need to constantly innovate and keep allocating resources so that the old and new business thrives together. There is a need to specialise by market or by products or by services.
On the other hand, it was also discussed that unlocking the potential is also very important, such as forts and palaces can be converted into heritage hotels. Conservation and restoration is equally important. Another key elements are unlocking the market, think of new ideas, issues needs to be discussed together, capacity building in the hospitality sector. Think literally and then create a product.
The second session was on ‘ETP (Ethical Tourism Policy)’, an issue of price war. Online travel portals which are armed with large foreign funding are squeezing hoteliers for lowest possible rate and have brought almost a monopolistic situation. Many tour operators have to shut shop and many are on the verge of closure because tour operators are not able to compete with the heavy discounting by portals. The session was actually a debate between the operators and hoteliers.
The third and the last session focused on ‘Strategy Startups-The future of Domestic Tour Operator’. Today everyone is going online and travel has become special, personalised and experiential. Transparency is missing in the sector. The tour operators should realise that they are not selling deals, they infact are selling dreams. There is a need to create product or a story around it, which gives an insight of the place and helps attract travellers. The day ended on a very high note and exchange of knowledge.

Day 2
What appealed me most on the second day was the topic ‘Desh Dekho Desh Khojo’, which actually sounded quiet interesting. I would rather have thought of flipping the words and would not mind making it Desh Khojo Desh Dekho. But the idea behind this was to listen to the stories of the eminent travellers who have actually travelled and have been able to find out those small little interesting things which can be sold in the market and would rather attract visitors. India is a huge country, no doubt in it, but can we imagine this huge country apart from forts, palaces, sanctuaries and other tourism products. It also has many such interesting aspects which if projected in the international or domestic forum will make a huge impact. So whenever you are on roads try seeing your own country from a different perspective and then offer it to the world.
Some conventions are only discussion based, some are a knowledge sharing process but the 7th ADTOI Convention was mix of fun, networking and dialogue sharing. On one hand the city of temple in the heart of India, on the other some really good speakers, one could hardly find such combination where work becomes fun.

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Explore wildlife tourism in ‘Heart of India’ Madhya Pradesh

Kanha – Call of the Wild

kanha, wildlife sanctuary, deers, kanha deer
Kanha’s sal and bamboo forests, rolling grasslands & meandering streams stretch over 940 sq km in dramatic natural splendour. Kanha National Park forms the core of the Kanha Tiger Reserve created in 1974 under project Tiger. The park is the only habitat of the rare hardground Barasingha. In the 1930s, the Kanha area was divided into two Sanctuaries, Hallon and  Banjar, of 250 sq km  & 300 sq km each. Though one of these was subsequently disbanded, the area remained a protected one until 1947. Depletion of the tiger population in the years that followed led to the area being made  an  absolute sanctuary in 1952.

What to see-

Bamni Dadar: Known as Sunset Point, this is one of the most beautiful areas of the park, from where a spectacular sunset can be watched. The dense luxuriance of Kanha’s forests can  best be seen from here. Animals that can be sighted around this point are typical of the mixed forest zone.
Less commonly seen species are-  Tiger, Indian hare, dhole or Indian wild dog, barking deer and Indian bison or gaur. Patient watching should reward the visitor with a sight of:

Indian fox, sloth bear, striped hyena, jungle cat, leopard, mouse deer, chausingha or four horned antelope, nilgai, ratel and porcupine. Very rarely seen species are-Wolf, which lives in the far east of the park, chinkara, to be found outside the park’s northern boundary, Indian pangolin, the smooth Indian otter and the small Indian  civet.

Commonly seen species include: Cattle egret, pond heron, black ibis, common peafowl, crested serpent, racket- tailed drongo, hawk, eagle and red wattled lapwing, various species of fly catcher, woodpecker, pigeon, dove, parakeet,babbler and mynah, Indian roller,white breasted kingfisher and grey hornbill. Avian species: Kanha has some 200 species of birds. Watchers should station themselves in the hills , where the mixed and  bamboo forests harbour many species, and in the grassy forest clearings. Water birds can be seen near the park’s many rivulets and at Sarvantal, a pool that is frequented by water birds and the area in front of the museum. The sal forests do not normally yield a sight of Kanha’s avifauna. Early mornings and late afternoons are best for bird watching, binoculars are an invaluable aid to the watcher.
Jeep and Elephant Hire MPSTDC jeeps are available on hire for touring the park. Elephants are used for tiger tracking and should a tiger be located, the elephants can take  visitors to the site. For jeep hire, contact the MPSTDC Managers at Baghira Log huts, Kisli and  at   Kanha Safari Lodge, Mukki. Bookings for a morning run should be made the previous day.Please bear in mind that jeeps are not always available during peak visiting periods.

Best Season: Mid October to June. (The park is closed from July 1- Oct 15 due to rains). For those planning a visit, a stay for at least three nights is recommended in order to have a good chance of seeing the more elusive animals- although  a brief visit is also interesting.

Food: Kisli has a restaurant and a canteen . The restaurant serves both Indian and Western food. The canteen serves  reasonably priced meals and  snacks. Mukki also has a multi – cuisine restaurant.

Useful Information –
THERE IS NO FACILITY FOR ENCASHING TRAVELLER’S CHEQUES at Kisli or Mukki, the nearest bank dealing in foreign exchange is the State Bank of India at Mandla.

How to reach
Khatia (3km from Kisli) and Mukki are the two main entry points to the Kanha National Park. From Jabalpur,Kisli is 165 km via Chiraidongri and  Mukki is 203 km via Motinala and Garhi.

By Air- Nearest airports are at Jabalpur -160 km, Raipur-240 km and  Nagpur-335 km

By Rail-  Convenient railheads are at Jabalpur & Bilaspur.By Road- There is a daily bus service available for Kisli & Mukki from Jabalpur & back. Taxis are available for hire from Jabalpur,Bilaspur and  Raipur. It is advisable to reach Kisli before sunset as vehicles are not permitted within the park after dark. For assistance at Jabalpur, contact MPSTDC’s Tourist office at the Railway Station or Kalchuri Residency(MPT)

Your Host

Baghira Log Huts,Kisli (07649) 277227 (MPT)

Tourist Hostel,Kisli (07649) 277310 (MPT)

Kanha Safari Lodge,Mukki (07636) 290715(MPT)

Bandhavgarh -National Park with a Rich Historical Past

bandhavgarh, bandhavgarh tiger, bandhavgarh tigers in national park, bandhavgarh national pary, national parks in bandhavgarh

This is a small national park; compact, yet teeming with wildlife. The density of the tiger population in Bandhavgarh is the highest known in India. This is the original home of the white tigers.  These have been found in the old state of Rewa for many years. The last known was  captured by Maharaja Martand Singh in 1951.This white tiger , Mohun, is now stuffed and on display in the palace of the Maharajas of Rewa.

Bandhavgarh is densely populated with other species: sambar and  barking deer are a common sight, and nilgai are to be seen in the more open areas of the park.

The terrain is of great rocky hills rising sharply from the swampy and densely- forested valley bottoms.The finest of these hills is Bandhavgarh, sided with great cliffs and eroded rocks and on its highest point stands Bandhavgarh Fort, thought to be some 2000 years old. Scattered throughout the park, and particularly around the fort, are numerous caves containing shrines and ancient Sanskrit inscriptions .

bandhavgard, bandhavgard national park

What to See:

The Fort- No records remain to show when Bandhavgarh Fort was constructed.It is thought, however, to be some 2000 years old, and there are references to it in the ancient books, the Narad -Panch Ratra & the Siva Purana .Various dynasties have ruled the fort,for example, the Maghas from the first century AD, the Vakatakas from the 3 Century AD, the Sengars from the 5th Century AD ,the Baghels took over, ruling from Bandhavgarh until 1617, when Maharaja Vikramaditya Singh moved his capital to Rewa. The last inhabitants deserted the fort  in 1935.

How to reach

By Air-The nearest airport is at Jabalpur(190 km). From Khajuraho (237 km), Bandavgarh is a five-hour drive via Panna, Satna & Maihar across stretches of the Vindhyachal.

By Rail-The nearest railway stations near  Bandhavgarh are Jabalpur (190 km) , Katni(102km) & Satna (120 km) on the Central Railway & Umaria(35km) on the South Eastern Railway.

By Road-State/Private transport buses ply  between Katni & Umaria and  from Satna & Rewa to  Tala (Bandhavgarh). Taxis are available at Satna, Jabalpur,Katni, Umaria & Khajuraho. .

Best Season– Mid October  to June. The park is closed from 1 July to 15 October due to rains.

Your Host- White Tiger Forest Lodge ( MPT), Ph:  (07627) 265406