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I was retired from government service, but my hands were full. I had got my accreditation as a working journalist with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. In the Department of Tourism, I had a Personal Assistant for seven years, a gentleman named K. K. Sethi. Coinciding with my retirement from government, Sethi also took early retirement and joined a major travel agency. Sethi became a great help with my writing. He would come to my home for two hours in the evening. He was an excellent stenographer and could read my bad handwriting without any difficulty. Everything was falling into place for a happy retirement. We settled down in our newly allotted flat in Saket. The Vocational Training College was only one kilometre from my house. If I had to, I could even walk to that place.

After a few months, I got an opportunity to travel extensively in Asia. The Federation of Advertising Associates of Asia had its annual session in New Delhi in 1982. The organisation had its headquarters in Manila. Every year, they selected a writer to do research on a subject of interest to the Advertising Industry. The Conference was attended by 1000 delegates. The subject chosen for research that year was – Tourism Marketing in Asia. The US magazine Newsweek, in collaboration with the Asian Federation had offered a $10,000 grant to the chosen writer to cover his expenses (including travel).

The sub-committee appointed by the Advertising Association of India selected me to go as the writer. The money was enough to enable me to travel to the major tourism destinations of Asia. Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand were the leading competitive destinations for the tourist dollars, followed by Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia and the Philippines. I had a clear advantage. I had served in Tokyo as the head of the Indian National Tourist Office. I personally knew some of the heads of Tourism Departments of the East Asian countries. Singapore, Hong Kong and Thailand treated me as their honoured l guest. I travelled to almost every destination in the region including Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka for my comparative study of tourism.

The results of my research were published in the form of a small book entitled Asian Tourism – a Comparative Study in Marketing by the Advertising Association of India at their cost. I was asked to present this study at the next Federation of Asian Advertising Associations annual conference at Seoul – South Korea. The findings were distributed among the 1000 delegates present there. It was a happy moment for me. The study is now over 30 years old and marketing methods have changed but the basic tourism findings are still relevant.

Travel remained a part of my life after retirement. Now, I was writing for Indian Press, too on tourism affairs of India and occasionally for the national press also – Times of India, Hindustan Times, Statesman and the Indian Express. At that time travel writing was mainly for trade consumption. Now times have changed – even Government of India encourages holiday traffic both inside and outside India and allows generous foreign exchange allowances to enable people to travel abroad for business as well as holiday. There are many more consumer travel magazines in India including Outlook Traveller, Travel Today and Cross Section Publishing House publish their own popular monthly GO NOW.

Apart from these writing assignments, I discovered my real forte. I enjoyed imparting tourism training to the officers of the Central and State Government as well as industry staff members. I was already teaching post-graduate students of Tourism at the Delhi University. Now, the Director of the newly established Indian Institute of Tourism Management requested that I conduct a week-long training course for the officers of the central Tourism Department. This was very close to my heart. My experience had been that once in a Government job, most employees virtually stopped learning and stopped thinking. They stopped thinking once they had their permanent jobs with little accountability. In turn, the Government had no retraining programmes or orientation courses to keep them updated. I had initiated training programmes in Department of Tourism Delhi while still in government service. After I quit government service, these programmes died a natural death due to lack of interest from my successors. In Government, we seldom want to take an extra headache unless adequately compensated. This offer from the Indian Institute of Tourism education, Government of India revived a dream project of mine. We designed a comprehensive programme focussed on practical training in developing tourism programmes for a State or a city including financial aspects, environmental concerns, infrastructural developments, planning, etc. The objective was that they should know the basic concepts of tourism planning. In addition, we invited guest lecturers on all aspects of contemporary India to brief them about what was happening in the country.

The new Institute of Tourism Management also requested me to develop training programmes for the staff of the Tourism Department of State Governments and conduct them whenever I could. I started this training with Assam and other eastern states of India. The first programme was held in Shillong, Arunachal Pradesh, which I conducted and enjoyed. The participants showed a lot of interest as it was their first exposure to the marketing and promotion of tourism. On an international level, I got similar assignments form Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) to conduct or co-ordinate their programmes. I recall that the PATA Communicators' Conference in New Delhi involved a lot of effort on my part as it was for the entire South East Asia region with guest speakers from all over the world. World Tourism Organisation asked me to co-ordinate one of their seminars on tourism planning in Delhi.

Just as I was feeling a little tired from handling too many conferences and seminars, relief came in the shape of a letter from the Secretary General of the World Tourism Organisation. I was asked to do a study on the city-state of Macau which was then a Portuguese territory. I had to suggest ways and means by which they could attract more Indian visitors to Maccau. It involved a fifteen day visit to Hong Kong and Macau as the guest of the Macau Government. The assignment provided me the much needed escape from the Delhi heat as well as something new to think about. The local Government accepted all my recommendations. Macau is now a Chinese territory. It gets almost a million Indian visitors every year both from India and non-resident Indians from South East Asia.

Since I was writing for both the Indian and foreign travel press, I was invited by international organisations like PATA, based in Bangkok, the Discover America Foundation, Word Tourism Organisation, American Society of Travel Agents and others for their annual Meets as a media representative from India. I could not attend them all but I did attend selected conferences held at interesting destinations. In most cases, international airlines provided me free transportation to reach there. Early in 1983, I was invited to the annual conference of Pacific Asia Travel Association as a media representative from India. PATA honoured me with the Best Travel Writers' Award of the year for one of my stories published in the Canadian Travel Press, Toronto.

I travelled every three months to attend the Executive Committee meetings of Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) in different cities of the country to organise their press publicity. I was their consultant. These 'see India' tours were a refreshing change as I was in a position to see the city as a tourist. Although these meetings were interesting and exciting occasions, I was getting tired of travel.

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