Our Bureau

Kochi, July 31

DESPITE India offering some of the most beautiful beaches, hill stations, historical monuments, culture, and antiquity of the world, poor air connectivity and lack of sufficient seat capacity continue to hinder the arrival of international tourists into the country.

The absence of the Winter Open Sky Policy information to the travel trade community well in advance has compounded the problem, said Mr T. Damu, Member of the National Tourism Advisory Council, in a letter to the Director-General of Tourism, Government of India, recently.

"A majority of the big wholesalers and tour operators have been refusing to sell India due to their inability to get airline seats in winter and it is these big giants who can make or break a destination. The ability to move large volumes is the basic yardstick that these large players use to gauge and promote destinations," Mr Damu said.

Holidays are planned much ahead of schedule and generally involve detailed logistics and planning.

In order to take advantage of the additional seat capacity on airlines in winter, it is imperative that this information reaches the major international players well in advance so that they can plan their selling strategy of Indian destinations.

During last year, though the Winter Open Sky Policy was implemented in spirit, it resulted in more empty seats in airlines due to last-minute capacity addition and resulted in an eventual rate war between various airlines, as there were no takers for these additional seats.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated August 1, 2005)
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