Travel Trade Journal

Opening up effective communicat­ing channels for members

Ajay Prakash President, Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI)


2022 was the year of recovery. With the resumption of flights in March and the sustained opening of borders, the industry heaved a sigh of relief. We knew it wouldn’t be easy to pick up the pieces and resume from where we left off in 2020, but there was hope, resolve, and resilience, and we have come through.

It’s been a significan­t year for TAFI, too. We kept in touch with our members through regular Chapter meetings - physical and virtual. We added close to 100 new members during the year, launched a new Chapter -our 12th in Jammu and Kashmir, and held a memorable Convention in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia, on the theme “Build Back Better.” An associatio­n derives its strength from the membership, and the members look to the Associatio­n for skills and support; the key is communicat­ion. TAFI did that effectivel­y through many channels, including a fortnightl­y newsletter.

We have revamped our website, and our members can access over 100 free sector-specific and soft skills courses. We’re also launching in-depth destinatio­n knowledge modules for our members to upgrade and enhance their selling skills for new and unusual destinatio­ns.

As we advance, 2023 promises to be a positive year. The Indian economy is projected to grow between 6 and 7 per cent, and traditiona­lly, tourism has always outstrippe­d GDP growth. Despite high airfares and visa woes, domestic and outbound tourism have shown positive trends. Hopefully, the latest COVID scare emanating from China will only be a blip! Inbound numbers, though, have been disappoint­ing. This could be due to a need for adequate and sustained marketing and publicity campaigns in key overseas markets over the last couple of years. It remains to be seen what impact the closure of India Tourism offices worldwide will have and whether the Indian missions overseas will fill the gap.

As we’ve seen, there is no point in expecting direct financial benefits for the industry. What we do look forward to, however, is an enabling environmen­t that facilitate­s ease of business. The GST regime needs to be simplified, and the rate of taxation needs to be lowered to a more practical level, as 18 per cent makes our star hotels uncompetit­ive. The TDS on tour packages puts Indian companies at a disadvanta­ge vis-à-vis overseas operators. Each state has different tax rates for tourist vehicles - which need to be streamline­d and moved into the digital space. The Fastag can be the medium for tax collection at State borders. But above all, there has to be legislatio­n for consumer protection. Aviation is the backbone of the travel and tourism industry, but there’s no protection for travellers or travel agents in case of airline bankruptcy. The obvious solution is to put a small charge on every ticket as insurance against airline failure. We have raised these issues before the Government and will continue to do so.

TAFI champions the cause of safe, responsibl­e, and sustainabl­e tourism and urges all our partners to join hands to achieve this goal. In 2023, we are planning one domestic and one internatio­nal convention. We are in talks with some Indian states and countries that have expressed an interest in hosting a TAFI Convention.

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