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Thursday, 20 September, 2018, 12 : 25 PM [IST]

34th IATO Annual Convention to shoulder - Tourism Ministry’s goal of 20 million tourists

IATO is all set for its 34th Annual Convention which will deliberate this year on the theme of “Mission 20 Million Tourists”, a target set by Ministry of Tourism, Government of India to reach the magical figure of 20 million international tourists arrivals by 2020. Being organised for the first time in Visakhapatnam, the Convention has received extended support from Tourism Ministry and Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation and promises to be one of the most knowledgeable and interactive events in the history of IATO. Anurag Tiwari presents pre-convention report.

Indian Tour Operators Association (IATO) is all geared up to organise its 34th Annual Convention for the first time in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, from September 6 to 9, 2018. IATO, echoing the sentiments of Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, has decided to dwell on the theme of “Mission 20 Million Tourists” for the four-day annual affair scheduled to take place at Hotel Novotel, Vishakhapatnam. The 34th IATO Annual Convention has received full support from Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) and N. Chandrababu Naidu, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh will be the chief guest for the inaugural ceremony of the Convention.

Pranab Sarkar, President, IATO stated that mission 20 million tourists by 2020 is a huge task undertaken by the Tourism Ministry of India and being the apex association of inbound tour operators in India, it becomes IATO’s responsibility to assist the government in achieving the set target thus we have based the theme of our convention such thereby inspiring the inbound tour operators to target large traction of international travellers. “We want to focus on the challenges which we have and would explore the possibilities to achieve our target. This Convention will be about revitalising our business, our industry, ourselves to take a holistic approach on challenges and possibilities,” added Sarkar.

According to Rajiv Mehra, Convention – Chairman and Vice President, IATO, a total of 450 registered IATO members will be participating at the Convention interacting with over 30 exhibitors and 15 State Tourism Boards during the B2B networking sessions during first three days of the Convention. Andhra Pradesh, being the host state, will also have its booth at the Convention. Mehra said that total footfall during the four days is expected to cross 1,000.

IATO has assured that 2018 Convention will be different than last year on the lines of member engagements and knowledge sharing. A total of seven business sessions will take place on second and third day of the Convention deliberating on the industry concerning topics. Through the knowledge sessions at the Convention, the association’s motive is to deliver a holistic industry perspective and address concerns revolving around travel, hospitality and aviation industry. Elaborating more about the sessions Mehra said, “IATO Convention is a platform where our members from across the country travel to meet their industry colleagues, network and share thoughts to help contribute to the national discussion process on tourism. Thus it becomes our responsibility to organise knowledge sessions with quality speakers who are able to share their knowledge with our members thereby educating and inspiring them.”

The Convention will see the first session on “Mission 20 Million Tourists - Challenges & Possibilities” where Rashmi Verma, Secretary – Tourism, Government of India will be key speaker. Mehra stated that IATO will address to Verma, the problems faced by tour operators in doing business due to taxation policies and how India lacks behind to it neighbouring South East nations in attracting large chunk of international travellers.

In the words of Mehra, one of most important sessions at the Convention will be on “Women Safety” through which its tour operators want to fight the negative message against women safety spread out in the society which portrays India as an unsafe destination for women travellers. Mehra informed that Meenakshi Sharma, A dditional Director General, Ministry of Tourism will be key note speaker in this session.

Alongside, the Convention will see a session on finance moderated by a representative from Standard Charted Bank educating the members on topics like foreign exchange. Also, there will be a session on Services Export Promotion Council under Directorate General of Foreign Trade (SEPC-DGFT). This year, States have also been advised by IATO to present new destination offerings at their respective booths as well as during their presentations in order to let IATO members know about new things to sell in a particular state and not just concentrate to old and regular tours.

IATO will also be organising five post-convention tours to the destinations near Visakhapatnam namely Sankaram, Araku Valley, Sri Kakulam and Kakinada.

Sarkar, giving his assurance to the members said that this year’s Convention will be one of the most knowledge sharing events in the history of IATO and apart from being informative, it will also be an entertaining Convention. Sarkar expressed that Tourism Ministry of India and APTDC have extended full support to make this event a big success and in return IATO assures that it will take every possible effort to promote tourism within country.
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