The 33rd Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) convention is going to be held in Bhubneswar, Odisha from September 7 to 10 at the Mayfair Convention Centre. The theme for this convention is ‘India Tourism- Time to reinvent ourselves’. Moving past the challenges of the industry the association has decided to plan ahead and discover new ways of growth through this convention
Since its inception, the association has brought forward industry stakeholders on a single platform to broaden their learning horizons. One of the main motive of the IATO convention is to come together as a team and identify the potential that lies within the country. The efforts continues as the association hosts its 33rd convention in the state of Odisha directed by a theme that would help them grow in the long run.
The government of Odisha has shown tremendous support in inviting delegates to the convention. Ashok Chandra Panda, minister of tourism and culture, government of Odisha was himself present during a press meet to officially announce the convention. Commenting on the recent growth in the state, Panda, stated, “A lot has changed in the state over the years and our latest tourism policy introduced last year gives more investment opportunities to the private players. The problem of international connectivity has been solved with Air Asia starting their weekly service to Kuala Lampur which will soon turn into a daily flight. Spice Jet has also shown interest in starting a weekly service connecting Bhubneswar to Sharjah which will add to our international connections. We have proposed to add three areas of Jeypore, Rourkela and Rajgarh under the Udaan scheme which shall help increase regional connectivity and also promote tribal tourism. Odisha has also been sanctioned 80 crore in the Swadesh Darshan Scheme which shall trigger further developments.”
Pronab Sarkar, president, IATO informed, “Our last convention in Odisha was during the year 2008 and I must say a lot has changed in the state from the perspective of tourism. There have been some landmark changes in its infrastructure development and new products have been added to its offerings. We look forward to raise more awareness about the destination through our convention which can give the state well deserved attention.”
Lally Mathews, honorary secretary, IATO mentioned that there had been tremendous efforts from the government of Odisha to bring the convention to their state. Mathews added, “It feels great to see such active support from the government. It shows they understand the importance of tourism and are deeply involved in the development process.”
This year the sessions have been planned in a different manner in order to involve the audience views stated Rajeev Kohli, senior vice president, IATO. He added, “This is the first time we have deviated from traditional format and made it more interactive. The panel session will involve half hour of Q and A where the audience can add their views and ideas to the subject.”
Elaborating on the sessions planned, Rajiv Mehra, convention chairman, informed, “The first day will include sessions on India as a brand, new marketing goals, Odisha as a destination while next day shall highlight the new generation in the industry, moving beyond cultural heritage and also a special presentation by Facebook. The three days will be highly interactive where the agents shall grasp new things and also discuss the way forward post GST.”
Amaresh Tiwari, hony, treasurer, strongly feels that one major takeaway from the convention will be a new outlook towards the industry. “We need to reinvent ourselves and move beyond the cultural and heritage aspect of our country. We have a lot to offer and it is time to showcase our potential in order to compete with international destinations,” he said.
Odisha has been highly active on the tourism front in the last few years. They have not only been developing their tourist spots but have also focused on different aspects of travel like eco-tourism, tribal tourism, heritage tourism among other things. IATO has compiled the best mix to be presented through this convention.