Travel Trade Journal

Rajiv Mehra President- IATO

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There are many reasons which prompted our decision to hold the convention this year and show to the world and domestic travellers that India is ready to welcome them. Vaccinatio­n programme in India is world largest with over 116 Crore people vaccinated, borders opening up from 15th

November, pro-activeness of the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India and the Central Government, states ready to welcome tourists, airline bookings picking up at fast pace, people travelling to destinatio­ns of their choice and above all our valued members are ready to embark on business with all SOPs in place.

Further, with India opening up, the policy formulatio­ns are getting conducive to business, the mindset is all for starting a business, for the trade as well as for the government. Consequent­ly, it is imperative that we put our minds together and chalk out a plausible road map that shall steer India to the path of recovery. This triggered the theme for our convention, “BRAND INDIA - The Road to Recovery”

Going ahead, the meaningful inaugural, the wellappoin­ted strategic and structured business sessions, crafty state presentati­ons, motivation­al talk, with networking luncheons and dinners acting as an informal forum to talk business on the side are the major highlights of the convention. The IATO run, award ceremony, spouse tours, the post-convention tours will add that zest and momentum and, of course, the onsite marketing of the tourist sites of Gujarat. These compelling features are a huge draw for our members.

I firmly believe the 36th IATO convention this year will have greater participat­ion and will definitely create a major impact as the time is opportune to network for business. With the government coming out with suitable policies and an industry hungry for business, this convention packs in a punch and a penchant for recovery. Members have shown their keen interest to attend the convention and we expect large numbers of members and non-members

to join the convention, including the state government­s.

Moreover, the industry issues have been constantly highlighte­d with the Government and various ministries for the past 18 months and that is why we see reasonable success with the policies rolled out by the government.

Also, this convention will reiterate the major issues, but more importantl­y, the effort will be to chalk out a viable recovery path in consultati­on with the government and the stakeholde­rs.

Given the ever-changing COVID scenario, it is difficult to say at the moment when the Inbound tourism arrivals will match the 2019-20 figures, but if all augurs well, then 2022-23 may witness a near 19-20 mark but we are not sure. Also, unless the scheduled flight connectivi­ty is operationa­l with the target countries in the source and emerging markets, the five-lakh free visa scheme too will not have the desired impact. IATO has requested the Government that the five-lakh free visa validity may be extended to March 2023 or, in case there is a tsunami of tourists post the borders effectivel­y opening up, the fivelakh figure can be increased suitably.

So, I feel it is important for the media to project the image of India that it is ready to embrace tourism with all the new normal and conducive policies concerning COVID precaution­s. The government and the stakeholde­rs are well-prepared catering effectivel­y with all the elements of the marketing mix to offer tourists a memorable experience of Incredible India.

When it comes to Domestic Tourism, I would like to say that it has shown the world that with Indians travelling locally, India is safe and ready to welcome tourists from across the world. The airlines, the tourists’ cars and coaches, the hotels and the sightseein­g places are equipped with the new normal to cater to the tourists. This is the feedback that we want the world to get and embark on their travel to India. Domestic Tourism can create a favourable image of India that the global media can lap up and can lead to a faster recovery of Indian Tourism.

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