For accelerating the development of the aviation industry, the focus should be on developing local airports apart from international and regional airports, encouraging low cost carriers to boost regional air connectivity, building a pool of skilled manpower for the industry and also coming out with measures to combat terrorism.
These were the views put forth by experts at a national seminar on Aviation and Tourism: Industry Relationships and Challenges organised by the city-based Regional College of Management in association with the Orissa Management Association.
"The aviation and tourism industries have been hit hard by the global economic downturn and also by acts of terrorism. Apart from developing strategies to counter the prevailing downturn, we also need to emphasise on security measures," said Vivek Pattanayak, chairman, Central Electricity Supply Utility and former joint secretary, union ministry of civil aviation.
"One of the ways to revive demand in this period of economic downturn is to develop airport infrastructure. Apart from building international and regional airports, we need to ensure that the local airstrips are upgraded into full-fledged airports to boost hinterland connectivity," he added.
Speaking on the occasion, H S Khola, former director general of civil aviation of the union government, said, "The aviation infrastructure in the country needs a facelift in the form of state-of-the-art terminal buildings, enhanced parking space, runways and navigational communication. We also need to open up more routes for the airlines and encourage the low cost carriers to boost regional air connectivity in the country." He pointed out that the aviation and tourism sectors are inter-linked and a highly developed modern infrastructure coupled with skilled manpower was needed to develop these two sectors.
Sanat Kaul, chairman, International Foundation of Aviation and Tourism, said, "There is a huge potential for tourism development in India as the country's inbound tourist arrivals in 2007 stood at less than 5 million compared to about 56 million in US, 54.2 million in China and 43.2 million in Italy." Among the reasons for the lesser tourist arrivals in India include lack of the desired tourism infrastructure and expensive room tariff of the star hotels in the country as compared to south-east Asian countries, he added.Prabir Pal, director, RCM, said India is the fourth largest economy in the world in terms of purchasing power parity and the growth of the aviation industry in the country has been spurred by the 300 million strong middle class.