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Thursday, 12 December, 2019, 17 : 08 PM [IST]

After landslide win, Team Progressive to strive for ‘industry status’ for tourism sector

Team Progressive, led by Jyoti Mayal, which swept the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) elections, has formulated a comprehensive vision document for the term 2019-2021. Mayal registered a thumping victory for the President's post against Sanjay Narula in the straight contest; and the entire Managing Committee headed by her had a landslide win in the elections for the two-year term held during their AGM late last month at Sahara Star in Mumbai.

Spelling out her vision for TAAI, "We have to be strong enough so that the authorities and stakeholders hear us as a strong unified voice. We will dedicatedly raise the issue of according industry status to the tourism sector. That is top most priority," she said.

Echoing his views, Jay Bhatia, Vice President, TAAI said, "My major focus would be on resolving the pending issues of the trade. Easing out the GST issue of charging for the air tickets and the hotel credits across the country, strong connect with airlines since the scenario is changing with the inception of NDC, OpenPass and RHC, with the support of IATA. I believe this also requires a lot of hand holding from the trade and all stakeholders as well. As a team, concentrating on GST, better connect with principles and airlines, and strengthening relations with the government to ensure better outbound and inbound would be our top priority," Bhatia added.

Enumerating on their plans, Bettaiah Lokesh, Honorary Secretary General, TAAI said that they are looking at revamping the Secretariat, making it transparent and functional. "Moreover, we have plans of amending the Constitution and making it relevant to the current time. Apart from this, we will be connecting with the airlines to resolve pending issues of trade as we have a lot of challenges on hand. We will reach out to the government for more clarity on GST."

“All our Managing Committee members are representative of the state and regional chapters of the association pan India. The entire office-bearer and Managing Committee of Team Progressive has a consolidated industry experience of more than 50 years.”

In order to implement the points listed in the vision document, the team believes their experience and business acumen will come handy. All the candidates of Team TAAI have held several positions at the national level for the association in the past.

Commenting on this, Mayal said, "Our Managing Committee has representatives from all the prominent chapters. Each of these candidates has brilliant track record having delivered to their role in the past and have an earnest desire to take up the cause of the industry at the highest level."

Echoing similar views, Shreeram Patel, Honorary Treasurer, TAAI, said that the Managing Committee members are dynamic and enjoy appeal among their members. "We wanted to form a strong team of candidates, and the criteria included past experience at the national level, and at the same time individually running a successful travel business. All our Managing Committee members are representative of the state and regional chapters of the association pan India. The entire office-bearer and Managing Committee of Team Progressive has a consolidated industry experience of more than 50 years."

With the travel & tourism industry witnessing a disruption with technology and M&As, the Team Progressive will drive the association members towards non-ticketing revenue models, create a strong board of advisors, including government, airlines and influencers. Moreover, the aim is also to increase woman empowerment to create a level-playing field. Besides, clarity on GST and the long-drawn issue of credit card payment for airlines and BSP also form a part of their vision document.

Q After an emphatic win, what is your immediate plan of action at a time when the industry is going through crises?
The first and foremost area of priority is reaching out to the government since I believe it is always better to sort the problem at the apex level instead of trying to meddle with the lower rung. We will reach out the Ministry of the Civil Aviation to ensure a level-playing field for agents as well as seek clarity on the cost structure of an air ticket that is favourable to all parties involved. Secondly, we will restart the dialogue to press for industry status for travel & tourism. This has been a long-pending demand, and it is time we reach a logical end to the discussion which would require consistent follow up and pursuance from our end. Having a team of seasoned professionals would only work in our favour.

Q You are only the second female President of TAAI after Neeraj Ghei (1997-1999). What measures will you take to promote women in leadership roles in your association to bridge the gender gap?
In my discussions with the female members, what has come across that they want to avoid messy deliberations and political one-upmanship. However, they are more than willing to work towards the betterment of the association and the industry at large. Therefore, I have decided to create a Women's Cell that will actively work towards the society on the lines of a CSR model. Moreover, I am looking at regular discussions with them to empower them and strengthen their role.

Q What is the update on the TAAI Convention?
Negotiations for the next Convention were on even before the elections. We will re-look at that plan, and explore the possibility of organising a Convention before March 2020.

Q As far as the TAAI Secretariat is concerned, how will you strengthen it?
The work is already underway to make the TAAI Secretariat self-sufficient. Moreover, we are working to set-up an office in Delhi. The idea is to bring about professionalism in running TAAI, which is a non-profit entity, and for this we require a Consulting CEO. Funds are a challenge here and we will strive towards speaking to corporate entities and airline partners for sponsorships. Also, we plan to encourage allied members to find value in the association and strengthen their participation. This will be a continuous process.

Q Enlist the kind of responsibility to be assumed by the office-bearers.

We will soon begin the process of allocating portfolios and delegating responsibility. I have a vision for each member of my team, and by mid-January, we will undertake an orientation programme for all chapters and regions.

Q On the education front, what is your plan of action?
We will continue to organise joint education sessions with tourism boards for members across India and host knowledge conclaves for skill development and alternate revenue streams. The industry is also facing an acute shortage of skilled labour. In this context, we have been approached by IIM, AMITY and universities in Bengaluru to make their modules more interactive. We will create a separate portfolio for that.

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