This time in IATO Convention Tourism- we will change the Indian Economy The 31st edition of IATO Convention to be held from August 20-23 this year in Indore, Madhya Pradesh.
I In order to highlight the importance of tourism in India and its significance for the growth of economy, the 31st Annual Convention of the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), aims to focus on job creation, leading to better economic growth, with the help of tourism in India. IATO works with industry stakeholders and expanding the learning horizons of the members. It started these conventions in 1983 in India to showcase new and emerging destinations to its members and it is the 31st convention this year. IATO convention brings together hundreds of senior level business travel experts from all over India to learn and share and network over business sessions related to the latest trends and developments in the travel & tourism sector. The Convention will be held from August 20-23, 2015, at The Grand Bhagwati convention hall in Indore, Madhya Pradesh (MP), with the inaugural ceremony taking place at 4pm on August 20. Hoping to have over 1500 registrations, Subhash Goyal is hopeful about the ministerial attendees also and informed that Dr. Mahesh Sharma, minister of state for tourism and culture and civil aviation; Shivraj Singh Chouhan, CM, Madhya Pradesh Government; Surendra Patwa, tourism minister, MP Government; Ashwani Lohani, MD, MP Tourism along with with several other Rajya Sabha members will be present at the Convention. IATO provides a networking platform to IATO members but also the Post-Conference excursions will help the tour operators in discovering and understanding the region better. Pronab Sarkar, Secretary, IATO, will be the chairman of the convention, while Ravi Gosain, joint secretary, IATO, and Sanjeev Joshi, executive committee member, IATO, will be the co-chairman.
Sarbjeet Singh, Senior Vice President ON AGENDA THIS YEAR
Our theme this time says Tourism can change the economy of the country and it is a fact but unfortunately the government has never recognised this thing to that extent to which it should have been. Government can provide the required support so that the untapped potential of tourism can be recognised for the betterment of the country. If we focus on tourism, employment will automatically be generated in the country. Nobody has to do anything, if tourism grows employment ratio will also grow. Tourism is the main way of generating employment and if central and state government focuses on tourism then they will realise the shortage of staff, transport, rooms and then whatever training programmes are required will come in place. We want trained manpower but very little is being done at the moment for the people who have joined newly in tourism sector. We give training to our existing staff but government should initiate programmes to train good staff and better man power in tourism sector.
ON MADHYA PRADESH TOURISM
Madhya Pradesh is one of the most pro-active states in terms of promoting tourism. It has decided to come up with various new destinations and attractions which is the reason that we have selected Madhya Pradesh for upcoming convention of IATO. There are many destinations in Madhya Pradesh that can be marketed for the international tourism. Yes there are few short comings but we will raise this issue in front of state government and I hope they will notice this.
ON SCOPE OF IATO THIS YEAR
We are expecting around 1,200 to 1,400 attendees this year in IATO convention as Indore is well connected with railways and airlines so it is easy to reach there and Madhya Pradesh is coming up with various new attractions so I believe most of our members will like to explore these destinations.
ON MINISTERIAL ATTENDEES AND RAISING CONCERNS
Indian tour operators are not doing great in terms of the revenue because tourism is not the motivation for the country as the main mode of generating revenue which is the reason we are not going ahead. India being such a huge country it is not possible for an association to stand alone and work for the countrys economy; it should be a collective effort. There are some ministries in central government who are mandated to take certain actions for the betterment of tourism but steps have not been taken by government due to some reasons and even if steps have been taken that have been functioned according to their own understanding of tourism which has resulted into benefit for tourism industry. Tourism ministry of various states and other ministries in the government of India should start working in consultation with each other to ensure that they are going in the right direction and this will ultimately add to the growth of tourism industry. Chief Minister of MP is going to be the chief guest of the event and we also trying to get Prime minister for this event. We are hopeful that leaders from other states will also be joining this event. IATO is a place for networking and a platform to come into focus so various tour operators will also be exhibiting. The issue raised in front of government are same which we are addressing from past few years and yes certain issues have been settled but few actions are still required to be taken. Service tax is again a big issue which we will raise and we will ask them to settle the issue of tax burden as government has agreed several time to do this but no action has been taken yet. Looking at the potential of India tourism, the number of tourists we get every year is a no justice to the countrys impending and reason for this is the high rates of taxes. Electronic visa is one major step but this one step will not bring the change as we need actions for the issue of taxes, infrastructure, and connectivity to name a few. Our present Prime Minister is the first among all who is talking about tourism and he has taken tourism to each and every level wherever he goes. He is taking a lot of initiative but this has to be taken forward by his team. We have unfortunately not seen any positive result so far but hopefully results will come. Making & amending policies and coming up with new ideas will not change the picture until and unless we start doing things properly. There are no proper prohibitions for the regular maintenance of the programmes started by government and these are going to decay in 10 or 15 years if the proper action will not be taken for the same.
Rajeev Kohli, Vice President ON AGENDA THIS YEAR
This years convention will focus on the role of the tourism industry in the Indian economy. The Modi government has made a big push for a paradigm shift in how the Indian economy works. We believe that tourism has a big role to play as a major contributor to the economy. The convention will focus on skill building of our members as well as discussions on new policy initiatives.
ON MADHYA PRADESH
We are going to a state that wants to expose its product diversity to the members of IATO. In turn, our members are keen to broaden their horizons and discover new products to sell. This is a win-win situation for all. We are truly excited. I think it is a state with much to offer and a brilliant tourism administrator at its helm. MP wants to grow its share of the market and is very industry focussed in its approach. They will go a long way in building itself as a credible and vibrant tourism destination.
ON SCOPE OF IATO CONVENTION THIS YEAR
We are expecting to cross our 1200 plus delegates we have been getting for the past three years. We have been focussing on creating a more relevant event based IATO and that has paid off. There are many learning and growth opportunities planned at the conference.
ON MINISTERIAL ATTENDEES AND RAISING CONCERNS
Having political and administrative leadership at our annual convention is a normal process and will always be there. We are inviting them to discuss and deliberate to make India a better tourism product. We are not calling them to cry or complain. Gone are those days. We dont like to look at the issues; we want to look at the opportunities. We need to change our mind-sets from being pessimists to being optimists. We will discuss issues that challenge us in running our business and also issues where we can grow. We need to adapt best practices from our industry and eternally. Current scenario of Indian Tourism is delicate. The source markets are still soft. We need to work harder.
Pronab Sarkar Hony. Secretary ON AGENDA THIS YEAR
The main agenda of this year convention is that we shall focus on how Tourism can change the Indian Economy. Accordingly we have selected our theme of our convention as Tourism We will change the Indian Economy.
ON MADHYA PRADESH TOURISM
It is welcoming move by Madhya Pradesh Tourism who came forward with full support and offered services beyond our expectations. More over IATO is going back to MP for the second time after almost 21 years since we had our convention in 1994 at Khajuraho. Madhya Pradesh has the potential of variety of tourism products for tourists from India and rest of the world. There are unexplored historical monuments and sites, beside natural beauty and most popular wildlife and adventure tourism. The proactive MP tourism department officials and up keep of the monuments are the key factor for the selection of the state. Most importantly Indore is emerging as one of the major city who can offer MICE tourism and having several convention venues of International standard and enough hotel rooms are available. The most proactive Cheif Minister of Madhya Pradesh Sri. Shivraj Singh Chouhan is promoting tourism of his state very seriously. Therefore, the Tourism ministry of the State is very actively participating and organizing various shows and exhibitions. Very focused and neat and clean up keep of the monuments and road conditions are much improved. Air and Rail connectivity is very good and various category of hotel accommodation is available at all locations. They have all the ingredients (except Beach Resorts), Architecture, Wildlife, Pilgrimage, Mountain, Nature Resorts, Conference, Education, Sports and they are doing global publicity. Madhya Pradesh stand now as one of the most progressive state with so much to offer.
ON SCOPE IATO THIS YEAR
We are expecting over 1100 to 1200 participants as we are receiving good response. This will mean the delegate numbers will cross our expectations. We are keen that IATO Convention be the right platform for deliberation by all stake holders on all issues concerning the Travel & Tourism and Hospitality trade of India. Our expectations are quite positive as we have gone all the way to make this years event as the most attended by delegates. IATO platform is mainly for networking and there will be enough time to do networking among the participants who are going to come from all over India and Nepal. We have given new look to our Business Sessions which should be informative as also interactive as much possible. Speakers are being located from all over the country and mainly specialists for subjects like Taxation, New Foreign Trade Policy andbenefits to tourism sector, implication of GST, Investment Policy in states, Governments New Tourism Policy 2015 (being launched this year), Prospects for New Budget and Tourism status in changing economic scene and government priorities, e-tourist visa with multi entry facilities, charter Policy in new Aviation Policy, Infrastructure and Manpower developments all these are need based for our tourism sector. Similarly some regular parts of the Convention broadened with Run for Responsible tourism with focus on clean Indian campaign and group discussions etc.
ON MINISTERIAL ATTENDEES AND RAISING CONCERNS
We have invited all Ministers from the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, VIPs and need to wait for their confirmation. Such confirmations come nearer to the date. We would like to hear from them what is in their mind for the growth of tourism in the country. This year we shall discuss more on the development of tourism as per the need of the current scenario economically, politically and mechanically. The current scenario of Indian Tourism is not that great as what we thought it would change after the E-visa facility and our Prime Minister himself did the International Marketing abroad -being the first Brand Ambassador for Indian Tourism. We need lots of corrections in E-Visa, double and multiple taxes on tourism products, high airfare for India etc. We all shall discuss how to overcome this present situation and bring back tourism in greater number to make Tourism front runner for changing the Indian Economy.
Amaresh Tiwari, Hony. Treasurer ON AGENDA THIS YEAR
Tourism contributes to 6.8 % to 7% of GDP in India. It is also increasing at a very fast rate in the country. We dont have that efficient infrastructure to support tourism in the country. We have a small market of around 1% in the entire global share which affects our confidence. Talking about the consumer market, India and China together share 1/3rd of the world population. It is becoming the biggest consumer market. Based on this we can target close to 3.5% market share and this is what the government is planning that is based on the data of 7 million plus tourists visiting and we should further target 15 million tourists by 2022. And this can be easily achieved only when all the stakeholders, the ministry along with officials and the tour operators join hands and carry a well designed plan in marketing to promote Tourism in India. Initially, there were problems but after our present government has taken the reigns of promoting Tourism, there have been an increased impetus to give a boost to Tourism. Also, keeping this in mind, the main idea behind the IATO convention is based on the theme of “How tourism can change the economy? So, with the growing government, we are slowly gaining the confidence that we have the capability and the potential to change the economy through Tourism.