Archana Sharma– New Delhi
Promoting the theme ‘New beginnings, Fresh Ideas, Vibrant Future’, the 30th IATO annual convention was inaugurated at the Kempinski Ambience Hotel in New Delhi on September 4, 2014. During the conference, Subhash Goyal, president, IATO requested the Kerala government to withdraw their prohibition over the unauthorised liquor. “This is not just a state issue but a national one as the business from Kerala will move to Sri Lanka, their biggest competitor for travel and tourism trade, thus leading to a tremendous loss to the nation.”
Welcoming the members in a press conference held earlier in the day, and emphasising the focus of the new government towards tourism, Goyal, stated, “Tourism industry is the largest employment generator in the World. By promoting tourism, we are promoting creation of employment opportunities and thus helping in eradicating poverty.”
Elaborating the agenda of the convention, Rajeev Kohli, chairman convention and vice president, IATO, said, “From the last three years, we have changed the format of this convention. We are moving away from the generic sessions of the policies and towards specific issues concerning the operations of the travel trade.”
While talking about the expectations of IATO with the new government, Goyal stated, “We sincerely hope that the government will launch their e-visa facility by October like promised and increase the luggage weight to 20kgs for the international travellers.” He also requested the government to stop the discrimination against tour operators and domestic carriers.
Promoting skilled development as their new Mantra, Pronab Sarkar, secretary, IATO, stated, “The tourism industry is growing in the country but our aim to ensure that the growth rate is doubled, with rural and village tourism also being focused.”
Razit Bhandari, senior marketing manager, Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board and Om Vijay Chaudhary, chief general manager, operations and marketing, Madhya Pradesh Tourism, were also present at the conference.
Talking about the venue, Kohli added, “The mandate of IATO is to showcase new products and destinations, but with this comes the challenge of deciding the venue and location, as the convention has grown and crossed 1200 members this year, for the convention”. Further elaborating on this, Goyal said, “The tourism industry is not limited to Central Delhi and Kempinski is the biggest convention hotel here.”