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IBEF works with a network of stakeholders - domestic and international - to promote Brand India.

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Authors

Colin Shah
Colin Shah
Shri P.R. Aqeel Ahmed
Shri P.R. Aqeel Ahmed
Dr. Vidya Yeravdekar
Dr. Vidya Yeravdekar
Alok Kirloskar
Alok Kirloskar
Pragati Khare
Pragati Khare
Devang Mody
Devang Mody
Vinay Kalantri
Vinay Kalantri
Varun Aggarwal
Varun Aggarwal
Erich Nesselhauf
Erich Nesselhauf
Ghanshyam Lal Vyas
Ghanshyam Lal Vyas
Mr Siddhartha Sacheti
Mr Siddhartha Sacheti
Satish Kannan
Satish Kannan

E-marketplace – Digital tourism solution for IITFs/IITGs

E-marketplace – Digital tourism solution for IITFs/IITGs

Introduction
An electronic marketplace is an online portal to conduct business where companies and/or individuals can either be buyers or sellers and can engage in business with other businesses (B2B) or with other consumers (B2C) via the internet. E-marketplaces have transformed majority areas of business they are applied in, of which the tourism industry is an important sector. India is a beautiful and diverse country that has the world’s seventh-largest tourism market that has great domestic and international appeal. India consists of 40 UNESCO heritage sights, of which there are 32 cultural sites, seven natural sites, and one mixed property. India’s travel and tourism industry accounted for US$ 121.9 billion of India’s total GDP in 2020 and is projected to grow to US$ 512 billion by 2029.

Largest Revenues from Tourism in 2020 (in US$ billion)


Source: WTTC

Solution of an e-marketplace for tourism
E-marketplace has been extremely useful for digital tourism. Digital tourism is a platform on the internet that aims to enhance tourists’ travel experience by providing digital assistance before, during, and after the travel activity. These services are diverse and could range from providing suggestions for various famous places to explore in order to plan the itinerary for visiting a place, to providing services like tour guidance through a mobile phone application. Travel management sites, that have become the global tourism industry standard to compare prices offered by different companies, make and manage almost all bookings necessary for a tour, and serve as a good example of how e-marketplaces are making the activities related to tourism:

  • Easier: Activities such as booking, researching on destinations and having multiple options to choose from at the same time has made it easier for tourists to get all the details that would be necessary and then to opt for the choice that would be best for them, as opposed to approaching various independent operators at their office or on the phone.
  • Faster to access: It is faster to access all the details that are relevant to the trip as they are all linked to the account of the e-marketplace that is being used. This reduces the need to carry documents in the form of paper which can get lost.
  • Modifiable: Tourists get a modular approach to plan the trip by including activities they would be interested in, providing them with a wide variety of options.
  • Better Prices: E-marketplaces offer discounted prices to tourists which results in the trip being more economical.
  • Better information: Most of the e-marketplaces have various details like hotel information, detailed itinerary, etc. that help in streamlining tourist planning and decisions.

The online travel industry in India is evolving fast as a result of the introduction of the internet and the emergence of artificial reality (AR), as an increasing number of Indians have resorted to the conveyance of web travel. MakeMyTrip, Goibibo and Yatra.com are major players in the online travel portal business. Travelers can look for information about hotels, flights, vehicles, and buses on these websites. MakeMyTrip is India’s most used online travel marketplace, that generated annual revenue of US$ 511.53 million in 2020. According to a survey, 72% of the participating people have used MakeMyTrip for their travel needs.

Aim of the government initiative
The Indian Ministry of Tourism launched an e-marketplace platform at the Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management (IITM), Gwalior. The launch of the digital platform that was inaugurated by the Union Minister of Tourism, Mr. Kishan Reddy, aimed at providing a digital solution for Incredible India Tourism Facilitators/ Guides (IITFs/IITGs), with the aim of generating more business opportunities for IITFs/IITGs by working as an intermediary between the customer and the service provider.  Incredible India is an initiative established by the Government of India aimed at increasing tourism in the country and promoting India as a reputable tourist destination. The advent of this digital platform will enable travellers and qualified tourism facilitators/ tourist guides with a web and mobile app-based interface mechanism, which is essential to improve accuracy, efficiency, and seamless communication. The development of this platform will aim to replicate functions of other well-established applications like Uber, Ola, etc., that operate on the business model of being a connection between the customer and service providers. The initiative aims at harnessing the potential of the tourism industry to provide benefits in the form of business opportunities and employment generation.

Foreign Exchange Earnings (in US$ billion)


Source: Ministry of Tourism

 

Description of the portal
The marketplace has categorized destinations based on characteristics like geography (state), type of experience (e.g. nature & wildlife), and region, which help in ‘destination decision’ faster and easier by filtering out places with characteristics that the tourists are not interested in, thus saving them the time that would be taken to carry out research on all the potential destinations in the list. There is a particular itinerary page that includes plans of a particular journey that are categorized by the different cities, mentioning the places that will be visited, consisting of details of each day of the tour. The e-marketplace consists of a relatively interesting section which is the blog page. The blog page consists of destinations or unique and special characteristics that India is special for, of which one of them is ‘India-The Land of Yoga’. The blog focuses on the overview and characteristics of the topic being discussed (in this case Yoga) and sheds light in a manner that makes the particular activity seem like a good holiday activity that will provide an enriching experience. The blog mentions the various places that are associated with the topic and briefly mentions the features of those locations and how they are connected to the topic in question. There is another blog on one of the world’s most prominent and respected figures of all time, Mahatma Gandhi. The blog mentions Mahatma Gandhi’s history and his journey. It consists of several locations around India and how Gandhi was associated with each of them during times throughout his life. Mahatma Gandhi’s journey and the core places that were associated with his journey attract many tourists every year from different parts of India and around the world. A good example of that would be the visits of former Presidents of the United States, Barrack Obama and Donald Trump to Mani Bhavan in 2010 and Sabarmati Ashram in 2020 respectively.

Benefits
The launch of the e-marketplace will lead to the following benefits:

  • Employment generation: The government plans to generate employment opportunities, especially to women through this platform by providing jobs that will be flexible in nature, to enable them to work at their favoured time.
  • Intermediary: The platform, by bridging the gap between the service providers and consumers, helps the service providers by eliminating the spending of effort and significant marketing costs, which may not hit the right target every time while simultaneously helping the tourists by centralizing the various facilities and increasing the options they can opt for.
  • Better communication: India being a country with diverse cultures, has multiple languages that are spoken. This can cause communications gaps and errors, which can be a major problem for the tourism industry that thrives on interactions, which ultimately become important experiences. The digital platform consists of guides speaking in multiple languages, Indian and foreign that would focus on not just domestic but even international travellers.
  • Multiple options: Tourists have the option of choosing among multiple guides on a platform.
  • Track Record: Tourists can have a general idea of the quality of service offered by the tour guide by checking the ratings they have received and can accordingly go for the best one that is suited for them.
  • Promotion and Development: The blog section of the portal can help tourists identify quality places that have been overlooked. They throw light on the places and their unique quality and culture that could lead to more tourist footfall at such a place, which also helps in stimulating the local economy of the place.

Road ahead
The launch of the e-marketplace is an excellent initiative taken by the Government of India. The platform encourages the country to keep up with the latest technology and behaviour in conducting business, as using this technology benefits both the guides and the tourists and is a good sign of progress from applying rudimentary methods. The platform will help fill in gaps and promote the use of modern technology, and highlight unnoticed places in the country that will lead to multiple benefits. It will make the tourism experience in India smoother by addressing the problems that cause inefficiencies which will increase the potential growth of the tourism sector, driven by domestic and international demand.

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