Travel Trade Journal
36th IATO Annual Convention Harbinger of growth for domestic travel
The 36th IATO Annual Convention promises a great future for travel groups from the Eastern region to highlight the vast tourism potential.
At a time when the demand for domestic travel has peaked in the country, it comes as really good news to hear that the 36th IATO Annual Convention will be in Gandhinagar, this month.
Undoubtedly, IATO Annual Convention is one of the biggest and significant travel events in the calendar of the Indian tourism industry.
Debjit Dutta, Chairman, West Bengal Chapter, IATO, informed, “The last IATO Annual Convention that was held in Kolkata in September 2019 was the biggest travel carnival in Bengal. It provided new opportunities for the travel industry of Bengal. In this day and age, when domestic tourism is back on track since the advent of the festive season, the convention will help to bring investments into the tourism sector. The pandemic had a huge impact on the tourism industry and a plethora of changes have occurred in the post-pandemic era. We are looking ahead to discuss the travel trends that have set in, learn and understand the transformations that have taken place and revive the relationships within the industry. The upcoming convention will be a landmark event in the annals of the tourism history of India.”
In today’s world, travel destinations are opening doors to vaxxed travellers and new-age travellers intend to explore authentic experiences. Dutta further said, “The need of the hour is to gear up in order to become post-Covid ready. We are looking forward to the return of investments in the realm of tourism. Every opportunity needs to be utilized and this kind of event is not-to-be-missed. Travellers are trying to explore new destinations in the domestic sector. Since global tourism is on hold, domestic travel will be a major topic of our discussion at the convention. The flow of tourist traffic in Darjeeling and Sikkim Himalayas has been terrific during the festive season this year. This kind of tourist flow has not been recorded over the past five years. Travellers are keen to explore the Northeast destinations. We have to collaborate for sustainable tourism development since travellers are stressing more on hygiene and safety these days.”
Some IATO members feel that it would be difficult to predict the kind of impact the convention will have on the domestic travel industry of the country. Sushil Kumar Singh, Chairman, Bihar and Jharkhand Chapter, IATO said, “The guidelines on which travel groups operate to entice domestic travellers need to be changed. The pandemic has crippled the tourism industry of our country and we need to appeal to the Central government for the travel industry to sustain in the long run. There are plans to open the Buddhist tourist circuit in Bihar sometime in February, next year. With proper highlighting of tourist getaways in Bihar and Jharkhand at the convention, chances are there for domestic pilgrims to head to the Buddhist tourist circuit of Bihar comprising Bodh Gaya, Rajgir, Nalanda, Vaishali, Kesariya and Lauriya Nandangarh.” Singh also averred that the convention is likely to bring a 25 per cent surge in tourist arrivals in Bihar and Jharkhand.
As the tourism industry has been hard by the pandemic, the forthcoming convention will provide an opportunity that the domestic tourism world wouldn’t want to miss. J K Mohanty, Chairman, IATO, Eastern Region commented, “The 36th IATO Annual Convention will provide a perfect platform to offer a major boost to Odisha Tourism by interacting with travel groups and tour operators and thereby showcasing the immense potential of Odisha and the Eastern states of India. The East will get a big opportunity to highlight its tremendous tourism potential, the firstof-its-kind non-virtual travel convention ever since the pandemic has hit the world. We need to come ahead to exhibit the tourism products of the eastern states that are replete with diverse potential starting from beaches to mountains and mangrove tourism to eco-tourism, tribal tourism, lakes, wildlife and culture as compared to other regions of India.”
The convention will mark the presence of nearly 900 travel agents and tour operators. Mohanty said, “With the relaxing of Covid curbs and vaccination going on in full swing across the length and breadth of India, domestic travel will play a prominent role in the country. It will be of immense benefit to flaunt the wide array of MICE venues of every state that will bring a surge in domestic tourist footfall. The convention will form a platform to exchange business opportunities among travel companies.”