The Department of Tourism and Hotel Management, North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong, has organized series of virtual events to reveal World Tourism Day on September 27, 2021. The event was opened with the national anthem, followed by the welcome address by the HoD DTHM, Dr. Saurabh Kumar Dixit. In his welcome remarks, the HoD highlighted the role of UNWTO on tourism as one of the key drivers of the global economy in the 21st century and its role in achieving the SDGs. He further indicated that tourism has a unique ability to make sure no one is left behind and that all tourism players should take a holistic approach and play their part in restarting tourism.
The Dean of the School of Economics Management & Information Sciences, Prof A. P. Pati, congratulated the DTHM for organizing the event and celebrating World Tourism Day with the global community. The Dean further stated that tourism is a strong pillar for societies and that despite the hard blows dealt by COVID-19, the sector is slowly picking up. In the same breath, he emphasized that, in as much as the vaccination process is yielding renewed hope, it should be noted that COVID - 19 has not disappeared. Governments, industry champions, and academia should sit together and strategize how to achieve the 2030 Agenda and leave no one behind.
The president of the Travel Agent Association of India (TAAI), Mrs. Jyoti Mahal, began by defining inclusive growth. She pointed out that tourism has been one of the industries to have worked on the inclusive model, as all stakeholders held each other's hands during the unprecedented time of COVID - 19. She further stated that ground knowledge of the industry incorporated with a set of relevant skills completes a tourism employee (some of the relevant skills she mentioned were; adaptability and emotional intelligence). She urged the stakeholders to work together in developing the right skills that will enhance service delivery and the students to come up with fresh ideas to grow tourism.
Prof C. M. Hall of the University of Canterbury (New Zealand) raised some very challenging questions such as; can we afford to grow tourism; who should and shouldn't be included, not only at destinations but within the tourism system; can we afford everyone becoming a tourist; is it economically and environmentally viable; what type of tourism should it be? He further implored thinking that not only consider the glamarous side of things but also to take the unglamorous into account.
Prof. Noel Scott of the University of the Sunshine Coast (Australia) began his address with an overview of the effects of COVID - 19 on Australian tourism and the current status regarding COVID - 19 and the vaccination progress. He further indicated that inclusive tourism should not just be all talk, but rather about actual measurements (indicators) because the tourism value chain is very complex. Therefore there is a lot of work to be done.
The Honorable Vice-Chancellor of NEHU, Prof Prabshakar Shukla, delivered the Chairman's address at the event, and he expressed his delight about the event and the Departmental efforts. The Vice-Chancellor expressed that tourism is everyone's business by stating that "it doesn't matter where you are from, out there, there is someone who is interested in visiting your country". He also stated the significance of tourism for inclusive growth and the need to strive for a resilient, sustainable and inclusive growth that leaves no one behind. Lastly, the Vice-Chancellor urged all to work together against the effects of climate and safeguard the livelihoods of those more vulnerable to build a sustainable future for all.
Dr. Punit Gautam, from the Department delivered the vote of thanks and extended gratitude to all the invited guests, speakers, faculty members, and all students for their insights.
The inaugural session was followed by a panel discussion with the industry's various champions, who are all well vested in their area of expertise. The panelists shared how best each area can best contribute to inclusive growth. The panel discussion was concluded with an interactive session through questions and answers. The panelists comprised of the following subject matter experts; Shri. C. V. D. Diengdoh, Director, Department of Tourism, Govt. of Meghalaya; Dr. Kiran Shinde, Convener of Planning Program, La Trobe University, Australia; Mr. Naveen Rizvi, Governing Board of Director, India Convention Promotion Bureau; Mr. R. K. Suman, Deputy Director-General, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India; Mr. Gaurav Agrawal, Marriott International; Mr. Jayanta Das, General Manager, Vivanta, Guwahati; Mr. P. S. Sehdave, President, Federation of Shillong Hotels; Shri. E. B. Blah, President, North East India Tourism Confederation. The panel discussion was moderated by Dr. Sharad Kumar Kulshreshtha.
The 3rd part of the event comprised of a Tourism Quiz Competition and Debate Competition. The contesting institutions in these events include Assam University, Silchar; IHM, Shillong; Lady Keane College, Shillong; Martin Luther Christian University, Shillong; DTHM NEHU, Shillong; St. Edmund's College, Shillong; Assam Down Town University, Guwahati; Dibrugarh University, Assam and St Anthony College, Shillong. The team from St. Anthony's College, Shillong, won the Tourism Quiz Competition, whereas Mr. Sagar Das from Dibrugarh University, Dibrugarh, won the debate completion. The team from the Department of Tourism & Hotel Management, North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong, stood second in both Tourism Quiz and debate competitions.
The cultural program and the award ceremony formed the last part of the event and comprised of a Speech on the theme of the WTDC-2021 by Ms. Syeda Nabiha Yasmin (MTTM 3rd Semester); Semi-Classical dance by Ms. Supriya Upadhyaya (MTTM 3rd Semester); Skit on the WTD 2021 theme (by Research Scholars & MTTM 3rd Semester Students). The audience was also entertained by in between activities such as a welcome song by Ms. Prothoma Bhaduri & Ms. Nisha Boro (MTTM 3rd Semester); a video clip that showcased departmental activities; virtual representation of West Bengal (Ms. Prothoma Bhaduri and Ms. Sohini Basu Roy) as well as a song by Ms. Nisha Boro ( MTTM 3rd Semester).
The purpose of the entire celebration was to realistically involve people from a cross-section of society to create tourism awareness amongst the masses. The Department, therefore, instigate to gear up institutions, organizations, the government, the local community, and other stakeholders to come closer to ensure inclusive growth through tourism.