Travel Daily India chats with Arun Anand, Convention Chairman for Indian Association of Tour Operator (IATO) about
the upcoming convention in Kochi next week and the issues it looks at addressing at the convention.
– Can you please throw some light on the convention theme – Tourism: Innovation and Partnership?
The theme for this year’s conventions is very apt & timely: Tourism: Innovation & Partnership. Today is an era of cooperation, of partnerships. We need to work together as an industry to build a larger pie rather than fighting to fragments in further. We started this theme of partnerships at the start of our tenure in the IATO leadership. We worked with it at our convention last year and we now are pushing the ideology further this year. No longer can a business survive in isolation of other players in the market. Whether we look at our competitors or at our suppliers or even clients, the game today is about partnerships.
Similarly, innovation is also an important characteristic for any growing business. If you just copy and do what others are doing, you will not go very far, but if you try new things, you have a better chance of standing out in a crowded market.
Innovations with help of Online maps, Digital camera, onetime check in, G.P.S Navigation, ATM, Mobile phones, Internet Access, On line Travel reservations, Real Time Technical support, Bags with wheels all these innovations have changed tourism travel scene and we adopted to these innovations.
So, together both innovations & partnership will create a successful & long term business model for the tourism promoters.
– What is the focus of the convention this year?
The focus is on the theme of the conventions and deliberation by experts both from India & overseas. There will be more interaction in such business sessions than just listening to speakers. There are some topics which are really going to make impact in tourism business on which speakers will give inputs like Partnerships in technology & service sector technology integration, social media technology, motivational speakers, some break of monotony by time with comedian & networking of business sessions every day, and entertainment, good dining and post convention tours. We are expecting over 1400/1500 delegate’s registration which will include invited guests, Media members and special Invitees.
– What are the issues that IATO is looking at addressing through the convention?
The IATO team address Visa issues had several meetings with Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of External Affairs and which was led by senior officials of the Ministry of Tourism to raise the issues.
As a follow up to boost International tourist arrivals, 60 days entry restriction between last exit from India and next visit was withdrawn similarly, it was due to IATOs consent pleading that Ministry of Home Affairs added more countries under visa-on- arrival scheme which now totals to eleven countries. IATO continues to work towards inclusion of more traffic generating countries under this scheme. The progress in the standardization of visa application forms and integrated online application system in 120 Indian missions abroad is yet another major milestone towards making the Indian visa application process tourist friendly and to boost Indian tourism. This was strong recommendation of IATO, similarly Collective Group Landing Permit (CGLP) which has been introduced by recent order of the Ministry of Home Affairs was also a recommendation of IATO to boost group movements.
Furthermore, we are pushing for enhanced budget for Ministry of Tourism for its overseas promotional activities. Tourism national booth in exhibitions at subsidized rates, over 10/12 exhibitions now added on IATO recommendation which was earlier for ITB, WTM, FITUR, ATM etc. We now cover all most all the continents, enhanced support to overseas tour operators as also joint promotions and publicity, educational tours.
– How do you think India will performs as a inbound tourism destination this Years?
Till, July end, India received 38.32 lakhs international tourists with a growth of 3.3% as compared to foreign tourist arrivals of 37.10 lakhs in the same period in 2012. So, inspite of economic recessions, inbound maintained a positive growth. Due to US Dollar appreciation against Rupee, inbound travel has become more affordable and there is increased inquires in current season. We are quite optimistic that the inbound traffic may reach double digit growth. We are quite optimistic.
– What new tourism ideas is IATO looking at promoting this year?
We are looking at promoting India as a 365 days destination. Eco Tourism, Medical and Wellness Tourism, Luxury, Rural and Heritage as well as Shopping are some of the segments we are looking at promoting.