The Indian Association of Tour Operator’s (IATO) 28th Convention opens doors on August 30, 2012 to its delegates in the country’s gateway city Mumbai. With the inaugural session being held at the iconic National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA), the next few days till September 2, 2012 will witness action at Trident, Nariman Point, Mumbai. The convention theme namely ‘Moving Forward in Challenging Times – Together’ will highlight and address issues and concerns facing tour operators in the travel and tourism sector and also try and seek solutions to the impending issues. Rajeev Kohli, chairman, IATO convention 2012 said, “This year’s convention promises to be different from the past. We will have a greater focus on interactivity, on learning and on building skills. You will see a greater attention being paid to how you can grow your business and to learning about new products across the country.”
Speaking about the convention and his expectations, Subhash Goyal, president, IATO added, “This year we are expecting 1,500 delegates of industry stakeholders, foreign delegates, eminent speakers, top officials from the ministry of Tourism – Government of India and from various state tourism boards, etc, for the convention. Every convention organised by the association has been different and has always aimed to raise new and existing issues with a difference. This year all the prevailing issues like service tax, VOA, increasing cost of air travel, and more will be raised.”
Apart from pending issues the state of Maharashtra will be in the limelight. Lally Mathews, co-chairman, IATO Convention 2012, informed, “The primary focus of organising the convention in Mumbai is to bring the city back in the limelight which has remained as a one night stay destination. Apart from this the state has a lot to offer and it is time we need to build the awareness of the tourism offerings that can be included in the itinerary.” He further added, “It is the first time in the history of IATO that over 200 active members have registered for the convention.” This year Maharashtra Tourism put the highest bid and was very keen to promote new areas amongst tour operators. The main area of focus is Sindhudurg and Ganpatipule, which will be covered in the post convention tours. From Bollywood to pilgrimages, MICE and wine tourism to beaches to wildlife, the convention aims to highlight the various facets of Maharashtra. A special session with MTDC called `The Treasures of Maharashtra’ will highlight some of the facets of the state as well as new initiatives being taken by the state government to give tourism a boost.
Over and above this there are other sessions namely, ‘The Affairs of the Industry – a panel with IATO and members of the Government’, which will aim to discuss the current status of the tourism industry vis-à-vis government policies. Further, A Tale of Two India’s, which will be presented by Nakul Anand, executive director, ITC and chairman, CII National Committee on Tourism & Hospitality will narrate a story of India and the opportunities she presents in the face of adversity. The session – ‘New Dynamics in Tourism Development’ is self explanatory-highlighting dynamics in tourism. The session Standing out in a Crowded Market” will aim to highlight techniques to survive the economic downturn and how to stay afloat during trying times.
Further, a special session will narrate the story of the famous Mumbai Dabbawalas, which will be followed by the `New Incredible India’ vision. `Tour Operators & Hoteliers – Bridging the Gap’ will be worth a listen. This year’s convention will also see the formal launch of the IATO Code of Conduct in the session `IATO – it’s your association’. Sessions such as `The move to specialisation- is that the future?’, `Customer Service – Moving from transactional engagements to lifetime relationships’, `Managing your business in a changing world Economy’ would bring in the much needed `Gyan’ to survive the downturn and improve profits. ‘Working towards a better and more inclusive India’ will be a session that will highlight, MOTs (The Ministry of Tourism) two initiatives the ‘Clean India campaign’ and the second is the ‘Hunar se Rozgar’ initiative will be presented by Usha Sharma, assistant director general tourism, ministry of Tourism, government of India. `The Travel Industry Global Overview incorporating the WTM Vision Conference, ‘Presenting the Euromonitor International Report’ will also be presented at the convention.
Finally, the interesting addition is that of the first time the association will be organising the ‘IATO Run for Responsible Tourism’ which will be held on the morning of August 31. To this we say let us have a healthy and thought provoking, issue solving 28th IATO Convention 2012.