TravTalk - India

Address the core issues:

- Nisha Verma

Travel industry is facing challenges on several fronts as it starts almost from scratch after the pandemic. As things opens up, Travel Agents Federation of India taking several measures to help the business, but there are issues that can only be addressed by the government.

Anil Kalsi, Joint Secretary, Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI), said that the challenges are even greater for the industry as everyone is starting from scratch after the pandemic. “We have to see the best ways forward. We have been working on many things at TAFI,” he informed. TCS factor

Kalsi shared, “We have met a lot of people in the Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Civil Aviation to push for TCS withdrawal. A lot of business is moving to online players due to TCS. In the COVID period already a lot of people got used to online channels. We are working on this aspect.” NDC a disadvanta­ge

Kalsi said that a major issue is of disparity in fares between NDC and travel agents. “If you work on Amadeus and book on NDC and everybody goes online and checks, then even in a zero commission scenario, with no PLBs, you are at a disadvanta­ge if you are not on NDC. Hence, we have to help our members get into the right portfolio, because in NDC as well, even after having bank guarantees in place, you still need a capping from the airline. This issue is India specific because anywhere else in the world, except for the Indian subcontine­nt, one can issue tickets up to the amount of bank guarantees that one has. Despite having finances of Rs 20-30 lakh, a normal IATA agent cannot issue tickets, unless he has a capping from the airline. Thus, we have taken it up ferociousl­y with Airline Passenger Joint Council of IATA (APJC). We are trying that IATA and their airlines see our point of view. We have also apprised the minister about the same,” he said. Credit card

Kalsi claimed that they are in talks with credit card companies for better pricing for TAFI members. “We want the edge of the online players accepting credit card payments at very low cost. We are at a disadvanta­ge because we do not make enough money to accept or to be able to absorb the credit card amounts. If we have a good rate and we have a package of things, then we can roll it out to our membership and they can make use of it at a national level,” he added. Embassies and visa

Apart from that, TAFI also had some meetings with embassies to sort out how the visas will pan out. “Since visa for many countries is taking time to come, many people have been losing money in cancellati­ons because they do not get passports back in time. I think for visa there should be more providers, because with only one provider for each embassy, the service is compromise­d and cost is going up. Those who have more providers and service points that process visa like for Thailand and Singapore are benefittin­g. There should be at least two visa facilitato­rs for each country, so that there is more value for Indian nationals who are travelling,” he suggested. Convention in India

For the first time, TAFI is set to have its convention in India. “TAFI has never had a convention in India. We spoke to the Secretary

Tourism as well as the DG Tourism, and we are looking at certain places to decide which would be the best,” he said. Post budget gloom

There are certain things which must be done immediatel­y in the larger interest of the country, and not just for the travel agent, said We (travel agents) have to see the best ways forward. We have been working on many things at TAFI

Kalsi. He added, “All the ministry of tourism senior officials were aware that TCS is a big deterrent to the travel community in India and a lot of our business like taxation and GST is going out. Billions of dollars from India are going out after remittance, which stays out after credit card direct payment on hotel website or OTAs, because nobody wants to pay TCS. If the government must have TCS, they should make it obligatory for PAN card numbers to be reported to the government. It must have a simplified manner—it should be one per cent TCS across the board as the five per cent or 10 per cent is a difficult thing.” Airline issues

“We have also asked the minister to start an insurance scheme against airlines winding up. Major airlines have made cancellati­ons non-refundable on even first class, like Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa. We told the minister that it is fine if they want to regulate things, but there must be some sanity to things somebody is allowed to do,” he explained.

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 ?? ?? Anil Kalsi Joint Secretary, Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI)
Anil Kalsi Joint Secretary, Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI)
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