United Federation of Tourism Consortium: Keeping Southern India’s Travel & Tourism Industry unified
Understanding the need to keep the travel & tourism industry united in Southern India, Siraj Ansari, former President of the Tour Operators Association of Telangana felt the urge to bring the industry of the 5 Southern states – Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala together under a common umbrella and founded the United Federation of Tourism Consortium (UFTC). Asmita Mukherjee met with Ansari at the Travel Tourism Fair 2022 Hyderabad and discussed his commitment to the travel industry of Southern India.
Siraj Ansari has founded two very important travel & tourism focused entities in Hyderabad. One is the United Federation of Tourism Consortium (UFTC) which was founded in 2019 by Siraj, who says that this is an association of like-minded people in the tourism industry based in the Southern part of India. The association has members from Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The other entity is the Avion Academy in Hyderabad for training travel professionals to be the best in a crowded market. The aim of the academy is to train students into professionals and make them job-ready with in-hand experience.
While speaking about the foundation of the UFTC, Ansari elaborated, “We have exclusive tour operators as a part of our group. The tour professionals interchange ideas and share good knowledge about the travel space through the consortium.”
Not only sharing ideas, but the consortium also plays a big role in introducing and familiarising new destinations to the tour operators so that they can know the destination and pitch their customers accordingly. “The consortium hosts a lot of FAM trips to let the travel agents be aware of the destinations,” he said.
The association also participates in a lot of events and assists members to attend the events which are being held in Hyderabad for networking and contact building, as Ansari thinks to be relevant in the market it’s indeed important to build own contacts. Before launching UFTC, Ansari handled the Tour Operators Association of Telangana (TOAT) which helps Telangana-based travel operators. Ansari said that his want to extend his expertise and help to the travel agents based in the southern region is the reason for the foundation of UFTC. He added that he wanted to help the travel fraternity who are struggling to survive. “My aim was to help those people with training, inter-change ideas, services, business. We are very helpful to the travel agents based in the 5 southern states,” he informed.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought travel to a standstill, causing massive job and revenue losses. Travel agencies were flooded with requests for cancellation and due to this travel agents faced a heavy burden of revenue losses. Ansari said it was indeed imperative to keep them motivated during those trying times so UFTC arranged webinars to keep the travel agents informed. He added, “During the pandemic, we had done many webinars, training, and destination-focused webinars that gave people confidence. Sitting at home during the lockdown has impacted the mental and physical well-being of human beings and our travel agents also faced problems along with a severe cash crunch. They were isolated and depressed, and these informative webinars helped them gain confidence.”
While speaking about the membership drive, Ansari said, “We don’t charge any membership fee for enrolling into our association as its complimentary. Our membership is based on a mutual business relationship based for the travel operators. We act as moral support to the travel trade industry in the southern region. As our industry was facing turmoil with no help from the government and online portals were also spoiling the entire industry by undercutting the price, and making the hoteliers face huge losses due to heavy discounts, we wanted to be their support system, and we received a positive response from the members.”
He added by saying, “Our aim is to create a new generation of talented travel professionals, who can bring in the change for the future. To be proactive and communicative; to liaise with the concerned authorities; trade partners, coordinate and correlate travel & tourism issues and promotions. Along with this we respond to major common issues where there is a lack of transparency in decisions or negligence of any associates of the travel & tourism industry and to generate awareness about the responsibilities and rights of the tourism fraternity.”
While sharing thoughts about his second venture, Avion Academy, Ansari commented that the lack of well-versed and skilled professionals in the travel and tourism industry prodded him to launch the academy.
Ansari elaborated the reason behind the inception of the Avion Academy by saying, “We have introduced this IATA accreditation certified travel academy, as we wanted to train the students who aspire to be in the travel & tourism industry. Through the various courses we offer, we give students various options to join any airlines, cruises, cargo, tour companies and hotel as placement offerings. The IATA accreditation certificate is an international certificate which has been issued in Canada. We want to mold people who come from different streams – both graduates and under-graduates, by enrolling them in different programmes that we offer and ensuring that these students get a job. We have guaranteed a 97% placement history for the last 12 years. Companies that are looking for people having experience in the travel & tourism industry can rely on Avion Academy.”
We also assist airlines, cruises, cargo, tour companies and hotel industry in recruiting. The academy offers different course programmes of 2 months schedule and 4 months schedule. Most importantly while entering the course we identify the person’s caliber by speaking one on one with them. We also do the counselling through interviews to understand which sector would be best for them and accordingly we suggest the course to each of our students. We also understand their job aspirations, and talent and accordingly we recommend them,” he concluded.