I was in Chandigarh last week to participate in the CII Tourism Fest 2013 that was being held in the city for the first time. To me, it was an opportunity to interact with the travel trade in the Northern part of the country. To meet new people who make the world travel and to go back to the city that I grew up in.
CII Tourism Fest, 2013, Chandigarh
Festival was a mélange of a conference on seamless tourism. An international dance festival, an international food festival, international chefs meet and another opportunity for the travel trade to meet and network. Except for the conference that was held in Hotel Shivalik View, the Parade ground was the venue for all other meets and events. On Day 1, I got to see the stalls of tourism boards from across the country and the globe. Meet some dancers from Haryana and Punjab. Who reminded me of the student days in the city when we used to be part of dancing contingents. And got to hear Sh Shivraj Patil – the former tourism minister and current Governor speak on the tourism potential that is still untapped.
Tourism Board’s Presentations
It was followed by many discussions and presentations by various tourism boards. Himachal and Uttarakhand presentations look the breath away with photographs. Wonder how it would be to actually stand there and look at that nature. Punjab’s presentation was eye-opening, as I never thought of it as a tourism state. While Haryana lived up to my expectations with their lath mar attitude. Presentations by Goa and Maharashtra had the passion dripping from the presenters’ voice. Andhra’s presentation had me sitting on the edge. I did feel a disconnect between what the tourism officials claimed from the dais and what you see on the ground. But I hope that gap would keep getting narrower.
The city tourism launched ‘Happening Weekends of Chandigarh’ campaign. With an intent to make the city a weekend destination from nearby cities including Delhi. There have been quite a few developments in the city since the time I was last there. Rock garden now has a rocking third phase that is not a display area but a public space used for events. But that still tells you from every angle that you are in the city beautiful. Many more gardens have come up along with a heritage center dedicated to Le Corbusier. The Frenchman who designed the city. Lake was as endearing as ever. The trees on the sides of the roads still make a canopy that is not seen in any other city anymore.
I spoke on the customer’s viewpoint and what we as travelers want from the tourism boards and travel trade. And spoke about the untapped potential of digital and social media. I assume the talk went well as many people including tourism boards connected with me after the talk. Punjab tourism arranged an early morning nature trail at Ropar on the outskirts of the city. That I would write separately about.
I stayed at Hotel Mountview, one of the oldest hotels in the city. At some point in time, it used to be a dream to stay in this hotel. This is one more of those dreams that came true eventually. They gave me an example of true-blue Punjabi hospitality when before leaving for the nature trail at 5:30 AM I requested them to pack a sandwich for me. When I went down to check out they handed me a packet without my asking for it. When I opened it in the car, I found 4 sandwiches, muffins, donuts, bananas and apples in it along with pouches of ketchup, napkins, salt & pepper. Where else would you get so many things when you request for one?
Put together, it was a wonderful experience. And to top it all I got to spend some time with my old friends.
Thank you CII for inviting me to the event.