Meet Ashwani Bhati, the new junior ambassador of the World Food Travel Association in India. The interview below was originally posted on Asia Travel Re: Set.
Ashwani Bhati is India Food Tour Manager and World Food Travel Association Junior Ambassador.
He studied to be a mechanical engineer and worked for a mobile phone manufacturer before volunteering at the Mahatma Gandhi Ashram. A chance meeting with a guide changed his life. He received his MBA in Tourism and Travel Management and began a new journey as a tour guide.
The business was doing well until March 2020. Ashwani recently made his first tour in 5 months.
This week we talked about his love for Delhi, his passion for cultural travel and his personal reflections on tourism in the era of the pandemic.
Why did you leave engineering and become a guide?
There is a culture in India that education is the path to success, our parents want us to be a lawyer, doctor or engineer. I got my degree and worked for a mobile phone manufacturer Samsung. The money was good, but I wanted something else. I left in 2017 and volunteered to teach children at Gandhi Ashram. It was the best experience of my life. It really changed me. I met a woman who was a tour guide. She told me fascinating stories, and I knew that was what I wanted to do.
I started working in the tourism industry but wanted to study for a master's degree to make sure I study more.
How did you find your first clients?
During my studies I worked as a freelance guide. I tried everything that came my way; food, architecture, photo tours. I was in the company of free walking tours. It was the best education, since you are not paid - therefore, if you want to make money from it, you must give your best every time and from the first day prove to the client that you deserve it. I'm lucky it started.
Then you got a job in a travel agency?
You will visit Rishikesh, which is rightfully considered the world capital of yoga, the town of Devaprayag, from where the sacred river Ganges begins, in Haridwar, the holy city where the Kumbh Mela is held, the most massive and grandiose religious festival in the world, get a lot of positive emotions from rafting on the rough waters of the Ganges, join the ancient Vedic culture by visiting many sacred places.
Remember that the water of this heavenly river, which the Hindu followers consider a living goddess, Ganga Devi, has mystical properties and cleanses from all sins.
** Route: ** Delhi - Dehradun - Rishikesh - Kunyapuri - Haridwar - Delhi!
Let's go? :)
A regular flight by Aeroflot on the route Moscow - Delhi, late in the evening you arrive in the capital of India.
Early in the morning you fly from Delhi to Dehradun, 50 minutes - and you are there, at the foot of the Himalayas.
A taxi will take the group to Rishikesh, on the banks of the sacred Ganges, after checking into the hotel - rest, then go on an introductory walk around the "city of yogis".
In the evening you will have a colorful Arati ceremony - offering gifts to Ganga Devi, the living goddess.
You will see the country from the inside, feel the diversity of culture and nature in different parts of Central and South India. On this route: we will ride elephants in the Pink City, admire the sunset over the Taj Mahal, get to the city from the book "Shantaram", visit the Indian "Venice", cross the mountains and visit one of the most mysterious temples, swim in the ocean and fly to bikes towards freedom!
** DIVE IN THE REAL INDIA **
We will study the culture and traditions of India, become for a while real Indians, merge with the local flavor, and also you will feel like a real traveler making discoveries every minute, experience the thrill of adventure and gain a useful personal experience.
** THE MOST AVAILABLE AND RICH TRAVELS **
Everyone can afford our trips, because we want as many people as possible to make the journey of their dreams come true. We do not sit in a hotel, but explore sacred wells and spend evenings on the roof in the elephant village, we will go to colorful local cafes and do yoga in the foothills of the Himalayas. We will consider all facets of India - from expensive hotels to slums, from ancient temples to modern megacities, from the Himalayas to the beaches of GOA!
** INDIVIDUAL APPROACH AND FRIENDLY COMPANY **
You will receive assistance from buying a convenient flight and visa to things in your backpack. We take small groups so that the trip is always like a trip for friends. An experienced guide will be with you all the time - a traveler, not even a friend - a traveler who will answer all your questions, serve as an interpreter, conduct the coolest excursions and will not let anyone get bored!
Hello, hello, sandy paradise beaches, warm ocean and rustle of palms! A place where you will meet completely different people: from hippies to ordinary Russian tourists. Take the bike and fly where you wanted - to complete freedom! Wild sandy beaches await us, where you can do yoga and meditation.
Russia and Ukraine are increasingly becoming the center of tourist attraction for foreign guests. This trend is especially relevant for Indian tourists looking for a comfortable and authentic travel experience at an affordable price.
Therefore, for representatives of the hotel business, preparation for receiving guests from India is becoming an acute issue, the solution of which determines the level of attractiveness of the facility, the loyalty of guests and the quality of the service provided.
In this article, we will look at how the flow of Indian tourists to Russia and Ukraine has grown, and also why Indian travelers need a special approach.
In recent years, Russia has become the leader in popularity among Indian tourists. The trend was reinforced by the joint decision of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to designate 2018 as the cross year of tourism between Russia and India. Such an agreement emerged a couple of years ago at the BRICS summit. In this regard, the Federal Agency for Tourism reported that both countries will actively establish direct contacts and expand ties between tourism associations and representatives of the tourist industry, facilitate the presence of representatives at international industry events and not only.
In January 2016, on the initiative of the RIC (Russian Information Center in India), the "Program for the development of mutual tourist flow between Russia, the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union and India" was launched. And in April last year, within the framework of the Visit Russia project, the implementation of the India Friendly project began, among the organizers of which are SONATO and the RIC. The aim of the program was to create comfortable conditions for Indian tourists to stay in Russia.
So, already in November 2017, master classes started for representatives of Russian travel companies and hotels receiving guests from India. The program provided for a special instruction for professionals in the travel industry market, which takes into account the peculiarities of the mentality of Indians, their preferences, traditions and habits. Particular attention is paid to the inconvenient moments that may arise when receiving Indian tourists.
In terms of the growth rate of outbound tourism, India is now overtaking even China. Considering that Indian tourists like to spend money, especially when they make concessions, give discounts and bonuses, huge opportunities open up for the Russian economy in general, and tour operators in particular.
Why is Russia so attractive to Indians? The director of the Indian Culture Center Sanjit Kumar Jha considers cold weather and coolness, which is so lacking in India, as one of the factors. This trend is especially evident in July, when it gets too hot in the European Mediterranean. The great natural diversity (forests, mountains, beaches) also does not leave you indifferent. We complement all this with theaters, museums, ballet and get a wonderful travel experience for Indians. In addition, Sanjit Kumar Jha believes that Russians and Indians have a similar mentality. All together make it possible for a comfortable and impressive stay.
The economic factor also contributed to the growth in popularity. The devaluation of the ruble has made it more accessible to find a hotel "affordable".
According to Ekaterina Belyakova, “the outbound market began to develop in India only in 1999, it is very young and rapidly growing”, while “initially, tourists from the republic actively traveled to Asian countries (China, Singapore, Malaysia ), but in recent years the flow of tourists from India has been falling there ”. As a result, in 2017, an increase in tourist flow from India to Russia was recorded in the region of 40%.
India is the country of the most ancient traditions and customs. Visiting India, you can relax completely immersed in the extraordinary atmosphere of the East with its spicy aromas and bright colors. Historical monuments, museums and temples of this country will not leave you indifferent, just like old shops offering tourists unique goods.
India is the best place to shop. The incredible culture of this country, bright national colors, the spirit of mystery and enigma will make shopping in India a real adventure. Markets, bazaars and shops are always filled with a huge number of people: both locals and tourists.
Consider the main goods in high demand among tourists in India.
India's main product is incredible fabrics such as silk, knitwear made in national colors, and clothing: sarees, skirts, scarves. Indian fabrics are renowned for their unrivaled quality, such as cashmere. Indian silk is in no way inferior in quality to the famous Chinese silk.
The next category of goods is spices: turmeric, coriander, curry, aromatic mustard, tamarind, cinnamon, asafoetid, cardamom, zira. Indian spices have been known since ancient times for their amazing aroma. Spices from India are believed to have medicinal properties and help to heal many diseases simply by adding them to food.
Tourists often buy decor accessories, tableware and Indian souvenirs. The elephant and figurines of Indian gods are especially popular. Souvenirs are made of wood, stone, bamboo, clay or glass.
Many tourists are attracted by jewelry inlaid with semi- and precious stones. When shopping in India, you can purchase a real amulet for yourself. This is considered the national necklace, decorated with nine precious stones. It is believed that it will save you from problems and diseases.
It is impossible to imagine a shopping experience that would have left out Indian tea and tobacco products. These products are abundant in India, of unsurpassed quality, but at a very low price.
The black tea we are all used to is Assam tea. It is grown in the Indian state of the same name. This tea has a rich flavor and is great for breakfast. When brewed, it takes on a bright reddish brown color.
Darjeeling is considered the best black tea in the world. It is a large leaf tea that has a light brown color when brewed. It has a delicate floral aroma with hints of honey and nutmeg.
The hotel business is one of the main directions of the hospitality industry. Today, both large hotel chains and small hostels, mini-hotels and family hotels are successfully developing in this area. Various enterprises providing hotel services operate both in huge metropolitan areas and in very small cities. Entrepreneurs and companies that have chosen this