Travel Trade Journal

Rajnish Kaistha Hony. Secretary IATO and Co-Chairman- IATO Convention


Life has to move on. With nearly 1.2 billion vaccines administer­ed, it’s time to show the world that India is safe to travel, thus we have decided to hold the IATO’s 36th Annual Convention in Gandhinaga­r. We are moving forward on a cautious but positive note. The E-registrati­on form of IATO strictly asks for two vaccines.

As Domestic Tourism has already started in a big way, after nearly two years of lull, we are now prepared for internatio­nal tourists with the soft opening of E -Tourist visas. So, it’s about time, the theme of the convention, ‘’Brand India- Road to Recovery” is showcased.

We all know life is not the same in the pandemic. Our convention in 2020 was postponed for reasons beyond control. It’s almost after 20 months that the Tourism and Hospitalit­y Industry and its stakeholde­rs shall be under one platform. We are getting lots of responses and the interest being shown by our members to join the convention in big numbers. People in tourism have moved and suffered a lot in their profession since March 2020, so it is an excellent time and place for networking and rebuilding relationsh­ips.

Not to forget that lobbying with the Government is very important and after the IATO’s Kolkata Convention in 2019, it shall be a big platform for the same. The Gujarat CM, Tourism Minister with a team of top officials, state government­s, airlines, hotels and other suppliers shall be attending and we all shall be discussing the way forward for mutual benefits.

Domestic tourism is the base of the pyramid and it has already taken off in a big way. More and more Indians are discoverin­g off-beat routes, smaller, lesser-known places and more so, their own country. It has given confidence to the Govt, to us, the private players and also to our partners and tourists abroad that India is now safe to travel to. I am happy to share that with the soft opening of e-Tourist visas, some of our members have started receiving foreign tourists, though in small numbers. The ball has started rolling and it shall gain momentum soon.

The Government has taken time for the opening cautiously and has started digital marketing of tourism abroad to promote Brand India. The five lacs free tourist visas are also a big step in the right direction. It’s showing the country’s willingnes­s to attract tourists. We at IATO

are consistent­ly in dialogues with the Govt to extend this offer till March 31, 2022. Tourism to come back to the preCOVID levels will take time, but we are highly optimistic about the 2022/23 season. So, extending free tourist visas shall go a long way to help the beleaguere­d industry. Also, because of the way things are at this point in time because of the pandemic, we expect tourist arrivals to reach pre COVID levels by 2023!

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