To showcase and promote unexplored destinations, the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) recently held their annual Tourism Conclave in Kevadia, Gujarat. The event was organized in collaboration with Gujarat Tourism. In Kevadia is the tallest statue in the world, the “Statue of Unity”. The conclave was witnessed by members from 20 regions and chapters across India.

Jyoti Mayal, President of TAAI, said, “We thank Gujarat Tourism and all of their team for their assistance in creating such a conclave. We are confident of revitalizing the travel and tourism industry. The members of the trade were going through challenging times due to the Covid-19 pandemic and this has presented them with an opportunity to adapt to the transformation and the ability to explore. Such physical events are badly needed to build confidence in the industry. “

Member delegates experienced the accommodations and facilities in Tent City 1 and Tent City 2 in Kevadia, as well as an evening dinner cruise along the Narmada River.

Kevadia was designed as a healthy travel destination with around 30 attractions in and around the stature of the unit. Major attractions include Jungle Safari, Sardar Sarovar Dam Project, Valley of Flowers, Cactus and Butterfly Garden, etc. Delegates also visited the five gardens in Arogya Van (Herb Garden), which showcase a wide range of medicinal plants and health-related landscapes.

Jay Bhatia, Vice President of TAAI added, “This initiative by TAAI aims to ensure members are familiar with the area in order to promote Dekho Apna Desh and revitalize the promotion of inbound and inbound tourism through skills and personal experience. “

Jenu Devan, Tourism Commissioner and General Manager of Gujarat Tourism, spoke on a live video call to the conclave highlighting the government’s initiatives to promote Gujarat in the world and thanking the TAAI committee for bringing its members to SoU in Gujarat and also assured members’ full support and encouragement in promoting Gujarat as a healthy travel destination.

Devan added, “Gujarat Tourism is proud to be affiliated with the Travel Agents Association of India. Two years ago we had the vision of developing the entire area of ​​the Statue of Unity so that tourists could spend at least two to three nights. Now there are nearly 30 attractions in and around the statue. We have something for everyone and for every age group, segments to enjoy. Also, many accommodation options have been added in recent years and the state is now continuing to invest in the development of this destination. “

A half-day business meeting was organized on the third day and was addressed via video message by Prahlad Singh Patel, Minister of Tourism (I / C) of the Government of India. He welcomed the initiative from India’s largest and leading travel tourism association TAAI, which has set a historic example of positivity due to the changing times. He added that TAAI membership encompasses all aspects of tourism professional bodies and in the coming future the responsibilities and challenges will increase when incoming tourist begins their visits to India. TAAI members need to be ready with newer ideas and strategies to ensure that tourism to India is facilitated by them in a smooth manner.

In addition, three exciting panel discussions took place on this day, in which the challenges and the path for the tourism industry were very well addressed.

The first panel discussion was moderated by Jay Bhatia, Vice President of TAAI, on Bharat ka Vikas – Empowering Domestic Tourism. Panelists attended the meeting, including Dr. Achyut Singh Jt. General Manager of Indian Railways (IRCTC), Ajay Kumar Wadhawan, Sales Director of Air Asia India, and former President of TAAI, Balbir Mayal. The speakers commented on the changing dynamics in the travel and tourism sector over the last few decades and how India is to become one of the most popular travel destinations in the world.

The second knowledge session “Where Winners Play” was moderated by Ashish Gupta, Founder – Strategy Pluto and Conculting CEO, FAITH. The panelists for this session were Rodney Dcruz, Asst. Director, IATA; Bettaiah Lokesh, Secretary General of TAAI and Sunil Kumar Rumalla, President of UFTAA.

Commenting on the relevance of IATA, Dcruz said, “The number of travel agents in India is much higher than the total number of 4417 IATA agents in the country. The separation that the industry feels from the IATA is just a problem of perception. We are not the regulators, just intermediaries. We develop all rules and mandates in consultation with the industry. “

On behalf of the members, Bettiah said, “If there is a problem, why not deal with IATA, which is the representation of all refunds, rather than dealing with individual airlines? We have over 1000 IATA agents in our association and see no benefit. We would consider changing our association’s bylaws to require IATA accreditation. “

Rumalla added: “The Covid crisis has shown that IATA is unable to take care of the travel agencies. The travel agency is now just a bank that finances airlines. The airlines use our money to run them. Today we need a risk free investment and IATA needs to play a balanced role between airlines and travel agents. “

The final discussion was moderated by Amish Desai, Chairman of the Karnataka Chapter, TAAI. Speakers for this session were Parineeta Sethi, Editor-in-Chief and Editor-in-Chief of Pinnacle Connect, Vasdha Sondhi, MD Om Marketing, and Jyoti Mayal, Chair of the Tourism and Hospitality Industry Committee (THSC). With their expertise in sales, marketing, PR and social media, technology and skills development, the panelist suggested how today’s TAAI member must address and be empowered with all skills but service delivery. Mayal also briefed on the upcoming initiatives by WITT (Women in TAAI and Travel) where TAAI aims to give back to society and empower women to become entrepreneurs by qualifying and working towards making India a safe tourism destination.

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