Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) held 2017’s last luncheon meeting in New Delhi recently. Summing up the association’s achievements over the year, the members also used the opportunity to discuss future plans and strategies. Rajeev Kohli, senior vice president, who attended the 6th International Tourism Mart in Guwahati, shared his memorable experience in the state. Urging the members to gain more knowledge about the North Eastern states, he proposed a comprehensive information curriculum (on ground) for the members of IATO. He said, “We need to gain more knowledge and expand our business to more Indian states. The North East is indeed beautiful and we have an active travel trade community willing to bridge the gap in the sector.” The members present showed positive interest towards the idea and were more than willing to be part of the initiative. Kohli suggested April 2018 as the ideal time to host the session and invited further suggestions from the team.
Sandeep Jain, honorary treasurer, shared the good news that Input Tax Credit will soon be reviewed by the GST council. He further informed, “On account of consistent concerns of IATO members, the government has planned to add 55 more immigration counters at the airport by January 2018. Separate counters for first and business class has also been proposed while additional staff is being appointed at the international airport. As India Tourism Milan will not be participating in the BIT Milan fair, members are requested to put forward their participation needs with the IATO team which can be taken up with the government.”
Pronab Sarkar, president, updated everyone on the issue of GST and said the new year might bring some hope for the industry. He highlighted how seven international tourism offices have been closed but marketing efforts will continue through digital medium. The members who have always participated in international shows through these offices were uncertain of future opportunities. Sarkar affirmed that IATO will collectively look into its members’ needs and requested them to provide a list of international shows that they won’t be able to attend because of closing of these offices.
The members further discussed other important issues like cleanliness. Many operators have stopped visits to some famous locations like Fatehpur Sikri, which lack proper civic amenities. Last mile connectivity has been another major concern and IATO promised to bring it up with the government. IATO members hope for the government to push more efforts in international PR and marketing which can lead to more business opportunities for the tourists.