New Delhi: Seeking to end the opposition of the tour operators to its e-commerce venture, the Tourism Ministry has invited them to join and use its portal to do business.
Soon after the launch of e-commerce portal on the ‘Incredible India’ website, the travel industry slammed it as a “sell out” saying the move will hit the livelihood of lakhs of tour operators as customers will by-pass them.
“We want to take them on board. We have asked them to list themselves on the portal and advertise their packages and products,” a senior ministry official said.
The official maintained the intention of launching e-commerce was “not to deprive anyone of his livelihood.”
The ministry on July 25 last had announced its tie-up with a UK-based technology partner, Eviivo, for operating an e-commerce portal on its flagship website www.incredibleindia.org
The e-commerce portal would facilitate Small and Medium Entrepreneurs (SMEs) like bed and breakfast providers and it would connect the consumer directly with the service provider, the official said.
But travel agents and tour operators cried foul saying the tourist coming to them for planning a trip would by-pass and deal directly with the hotels and on-site facilities providers
Following the government’s offer, the tour operators toned down their opposition.
“We had taken up the matter with the minister and officials. The ministry has offered to list all the operators with various travel agent organisations. We will see how it works out for us,” Subhash Goyal, president, Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), said.
He said the industry was protesting because there was no transparency in the deal.
“We demanded to know how the right to conduct business could go only to one company, that too, which is UK based,” Goyal said.
“Eviivo was getting 6% from every transaction from the government. We do not know how and why the deal was struck,” the IATO president said.
As the trip planning goes internet, the conventional industry of travel agents scouting for tourists at stations, hotels and airports and offering packages is increasingly coming under threat.
“Almost 70% of transactions are now through the net. We will have to change our business model soon,” admits Mukesh Jagga, President, Indian Domestic Tour Operators Association.
A hint to this effect was given by the ministry itself during the launch when the then Tourism Secretary Christy L Fernandez had asked the industry to brace up against the “lurking danger” posed by the internet-based commerce to their conventional business model.