Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI) is holding its first annual convention this year at Manila in Philippines. The convention will be held from December 1 – 4, 2013 at the Solaire Resort & Casino in Manila with the theme ‘Changing Face of Indian Outbound’. Riaz Munshi, vice president of OTOAI and managing director of N Chirag Travels, has been appointed as chairman of the convention, and Vineet Gopal, joint secretary of OTOAI, and managing director of Engee Holidays (a unit of Engee Tours & Travels) is vice chairman.
OTOAI is expecting to address various national and global issues of the travel, tourism and hospitality industry through its business sessions. “We will be addressing the future of Indian outbound industry. We will be looking at various aspects from domestic as well as international perspective. Also we will be discussing issues related to the industry like recognition by the government of India, taxes and changes expected in future,” stated Guldeep Singh Sahni, president, OTOAI, and managing director of Weldon Tours & Travels. The business sessions will also cover other aspects of the travel trade, “We have witnessed a huge increase in India outbound and through the business sessions we will be talking about marketing strategy also,” opined Gopal. All these discussions would be covered through six business sessions spanning across two days (three sessions a day) and will have international and national speakers giving an overall perspective of Indian and international tourism.
Guldeep Singh Sahni
Apart from discussing various issues relating to the outbound travel trade, the association also hopes to introduce Philippines to its members and give Indian travellers another new destination to explore. The decision for choosing Philippines for their maiden convention was also driven by the objective of opening a new level of partnership between Philippines and India. “We have been looking at a destination which will benefit from the convention by receiving a noticeable and sizeable number of tourists after the convention. The destination should hold value for the participants. It should be a destination for all segments of travellers like honeymooners, families, singles, youth, MICE, couples etc,” explained Sahni, adding, “We expect a new level of partnership between India and the Philippines’ tourism industry. We will have pan India tour operators coming onto one platform and creating a common cause.”
Through this convention the association also aims at increasing the inflow of Indian tourists to Philippines through the platform of OTOAI which is also the core message for the convention. “Currently there are 50,000 Indian arrivals to Philippines and through this convention we expect the footfalls to increase. Philippines will be showcased to the travel trade through a FAM trip to islands like Boracay, Palawan and Cebu,” said Gopal. Adding to this, Sahni stated, “OTOAI is the platform where all the countries who want high numbers of tourists from India can do their promotions. India’s outbound tourism can impact the Gross Domestic Product of countries who attract visitors from India. Hence the future of India’s outbound tourism is bright.”
Regarding the unique aspect of OTOAI’s maiden convention, Munshi explained, “The convention is going to be more interactive and will focus on how to take the Indian outbound tourism forward. This convention will help to educate the members on how to do business, it will motivate them and will open more opportunities to them.” The convention is expected to host approximately 250 delegates.
Since OTOAI’s inception in December 2011, it aims to have a targeted membership base of over 2000 members and regional chapters across India. The association follows the vision of recognising travel management as a profession with a recognised body of knowledge and with a well established and practiced code of ethics and standards of professional conduct. Their future strategies involve creating and sourcing relevant information for their members, connecting with members through technology, advocating effectively for members and markets, and solidifying and extending their global presence.
OTOAI’s objective has been to lead the travel industry in India by selling travel through effective representation, shared knowledge and collaboration with stakeholders. OTOAI also seeks to create a retail travel marketplace that is profitable, growing and a rewarding place to work, invest and do business.