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Wednesday, 14 August, 2019, 12 : 00 PM [IST]
IATO’s Outbound Forum holds its first meeting in Delhi
TBM Staff | New Delhi

The newly formed Outbound Forum of the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) held its first interactive meeting in Delhi. At the meeting, the leadership of the association as well as the Outbound committee tried to convince members about the new initiative and the purposefulness of the forum in the changing and challenging business environment.

Although there are dissensions in formalising an Outbound Forum against the principles of the Association (formed to promote Inbound tourism into India), the leadership presented a joint face on the issue and explained the ground realities that led to the move.

“Changing times necessitate innovation and diversification,” said Vishal Yadav, Chairman of the Outbound Forum of IATO. “It’s not difficult to sell outbound. It is just a matter of building concepts,” he added. Considering, India receives foreign tourists from less than 35% of the countries in the world, IATO being a body of DoT approved agents can go and talk to countries about the value of bilateral tourism.“Being the flagship tourism industry association, IATO has the responsibility to create a pool of travel experts with expertise on bilateral tourism,” he said.

“The definition of outbound has changed.  We have to grow our business.  So far we have been refusing requests from our foreign counterparts to handle business to neighbouring and regional destinations.  We cannot say no for long,” said Pranab Sarkar, President, IATO.

“We are not deviating from our core, which is inbound. A lot of our members are already doing outbound. That’s a second revenue stream for lot of them.  It’s a win-win situation if we look at the entire spectrum of travel,” said Rajesh Mudgill, Secretary, IATO.

Rajiv Mehra, Vice President, IATO, said that there has been a consensus within the EC of the association to “start doing the neighbouring destinations first”. He said that the members have been catering to the outbound demands for Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan, Myanmar, etc. already and therefore there is nothing wrong in expanding it to Thailand, Dubai, etc. “But we won’t go to Australia, Europe and the US,” he said.

Members who attended the meeting also expressed their support to the initiative.  There are financial compulsions with inbound not growing at the expected pace, says Kuku Kumar. He said that there is nothing wrong in offering services for other neighbouring destinations for tourists coming to India. “Today, nobody wants to travel to India alone and go back,” she added.

Amaresh Tiwari called it a “right step” and said that the initiative will help members to negotiate two-way tourism. He said that businesses which stuck to the conventional models were swept away because they refused to accept change. “Innovation is important for any business,” he said.

 
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