Southern Travels Strategizing ways for Resurgence and Growth to regain the Pre-Pandemic Level

CXOToday has engaged in an exclusive interview with Mr. A. Krishna Mohan, M.D., Southern Travels


Q1. How is Southern Travels planning to expand in India?

Southern Travels (ST) has embarked on an expansion spree, and we have a long list of destinations to cover where technology will usher us in finding the right path. In future, we will definitely going to ease our customer service using AI, Big Data, Blockchain and other path-breaking technologies. We are determined to become an MNC of Indian origin in the tourism sector. We are also focused to get more business partners with us. Post-covid, we have already partnered with 200+ partners across multiple domains.


Q2. Due to the pandemic the travel and tourism sector had suffered a lot. Is the sector reviving at a better pace in the current situation?

The restrictions of the pandemic have also restricted travel opportunities for tourists, resulting in the rise of revenge travels during 2022, which is expected to become a routine during 2023. Hence the growth trajectory of Indian tourism is projected to further boost this year, with the industry expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CGAR) of around 13.59 per cent to reach a market volume of $ 31.33 billion by 2027. There has also been a rising curiosity among Indians towards travelling, and the number of tourists seeking a digital detox through travelling to exotic destinations is expected to rise significantly during the year. Also, it is projected that more professionals will prefer to visit explicit destinations while continuing to work in a remote mode, making it their exclusive ‘work-cations’.

In tandem with the rapid revival of the travel and tourism sector in the country, Southern Travels has recently come up with new brand stores in the eastern and central parts of the country by strengthening its presence in cities like Kolkata and Raipur. Besides, we are also launching new brand stores in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana to further enrich the travel experience of people in southern states. Since Southern Travels is moving fast on its expansion spree, we are equally interested in making an impactful presence in the markets of North India.


Q3. As the brand has been catering for 50 years, how is Southern Travel different from other players?

The foremost factor which distinguishes Southern Travel from other travel companies is – TRUST gainedover 50 legacy years. We stay connected with our customers during the entire tour and ensure them a safe and endearingly travel experience. Our operations and customer support is extremely powerful. For our customers, booking is not the only thing, we try to fulfil their dream of travelling.

On the one hand, we are providing digital solutions to customers and making their experience easy, and on the other hand, we are also equipping employees with new technologies, such as providing training to them on SaaS products for HR and new CRMs for easy operations. Also, ST has a good partner base, post covid, we have a base of 200+ partners in different domains like airlines, hotels, DMC, etc.


Q4. What is your view on digital tourism and how has it helped the sector?

Digitalization is transforming every sector, and the tourism sector is no exception. The induction of digital technologies in this sector has blessed travellers with a variety of benefits, from preparing the itinerary to covering the maximum number of places in a limited time and without making a hole in the pocket of the traveller. Robotic technology is expected to revolutionize the travel sector, with robots being used for concierge-like roles, such as greeting guests when they arrive or providing them with valuable information. Also, players in the industry are working on incorporating cutting-edge technologies like contactless payment, virtual reality, AI Chatbots, the Internet of Things (IoT), recognition technology, augmented reality, etc.


Q5. What are the travel and tourism trends that you think the sector might witness 2023?

There will be a significant rise in visits to peace and pleasure pilgrimages, transformational retreats & getaways, all-inclusive travel booking and travellers booking with their bucket lists. Destinations expected to attract the most tourists this year can be Himachal, Rajasthan, Kerala, Sikkim, Gujarat, Andaman, Europe, Bali, Dubai, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam & Cambodia, Australia, New Zealand, and Turkey.

The year 2022 came out as a relaxation after the unprecedented situation of the pandemic. Proceeding ahead, in the year 2023, millions of enthusiastic travellers are already planning trips to explore national as well as international destinations. Besides, they are willing to embrace Ecotourism in order to rejuvenate their energy through nature-based travel. These modern times excursionists are also helping the communities whose primary source of livelihood comes from travel and hospitality, i.e., being dependent on tourism in these remote yet natural places.


Q6. What are your budget expectations?

The travel & tourism sector has gone through a two-year-long lean period during the covid led pandemic. After two years of struggle, the industry witnessed sunny days in 2022. The government of India has also taken good initiatives in the past by allocating INR 2,400 crore, i.e., an 18.42 per cent rise from FY 2021-22. Various market reports claim that the industry has tremendous growth potential, and it is projected to reach USD 125 billion by FY27. Amidst this transitional scenario, industry players once again expect a balanced budget considering their few demands, such as taxing real income and not notional income and rationalization of multiple GST Rates into 2-3 tier GST rates. Tourism Industry is earning foreign exchange for the country, may be accorded with the status of “Export of services” and accordingly all the export benefits to be provided.  At present E-Invoicing is mandatory. It is recommended that the government should formulate a well-defined procedure for refund of IGST paid by the tourists leaving India on supply of goods taken out of the country as a part of the baggage. The exemption is significant as the industry is still in the recovery mode and by that time staff strength employed by the tour operators will increase.

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