Guwahati, Aug. 10: Assam Tourism Development Corporation Limited has decided to directly reach out to tourists by opening its own travel agency — Red River Tours and Travels — which is already taking bookings.
The travel agency is a subsidiary of Assam Tourism Development Corporation Limited and has its own travel website. It will attempt to take on private players who dominate the tourism sector.
The website will provide unique packages that are being introduced by Assam Tourism, including river cruises, tree-top stays and eco-tourism packages.
“The USP (of the agency) is that it is government owned and we are making every attempt to provide reliable and quality services. We have just started and will continue to add value and choices as we advance,” Anurag Singh, managing director of ATDCL, told The Telegraph.
The travel industry in India is growing at a rate of 15 per cent per year and the online travel business is growing at around 35 per cent per year.
“When we have our own infrastructure there is no reason not to have our own travel agency. Why should tourists give commission to other travel agents when we can have our own?” Singh said.
The corporation develops and manages tourist lodges, hotels, restaurants, guesthouses and entertainment projects. It also purchases, acquires, construct and sells infrastructure to promote tourism in the state.
Currently, the travel agency is offering international, domestic and Northeast India packages.“The agency will also act as a nodal facilitation centre for travel solutions for tourist information centres, which are proposed in all the districts of the state. It will cater to the needs of tourists and offer a wide range of facilities, such as airport taxi service, tourist taxis, airline tickets, packages and hotels,” Singh said.
“When you are in the tourism business, you must know what the tourists want and that is why the ATDCL wanted to have its own travel agency,” he added.
Ashish Phookan of Jungle Travels India, a Guwahati-based eco-tourism company welcomed ATDCL’s entry into the travel business.
“It is good for the tourism sector because there will be more tour operators, which will bring in more tourists. It all depends on the quality of services rendered, if that is good, it will be a good development,” he said.
In 2011, 43.39 lakh domestic tourists and 16,000 foreign tourists visited Assam. During 2006 to 2010, the number of domestic tourists visiting the state has risen by 5.51 per cent. “We have been getting good number of enquiries, both domestic and from overseas. Compared to other destinations, Assam is still an emerging tourism destination,” Phookan said.