The first international Convention of Enterprising Travel Agents Association (ETAA), which concluded recently in Dubai, exceeded the expectations of the 400-plus participating members in its promise of a radically different format that added value and gave an extensive first-hand experience of the destination. The Convention with its tagline, ‘Dubai in your Palm’, was a runaway success. Aptly, the Association, which lays emphasis on the spirit of enterprise, conferred the Travel Entrepreneur of the Decade Award upon Zubin Karkaria, CEO, VFS Global Group. The Award was presented by Karl Dantas, Chairman Emeritus, ETAA, and Naveen Advani, President ETAA, at the final gala dinner of the Convention hosted at an exclusive Bedouin desert camp. The Award, according to Dantas, was instituted as they felt the need of the hour was to honour innovation, excellence and contribution to the industry. ETAA is one of India’s leading travel industry bodies with 600-plus members and is India’s first and only association of non-IATA agents.
Dantas said, “Zubin’s contribution to the travel industry for more than two decades has been immense. He launched many new and innovative products with SOTC and Kuoni and virtually created a new industry by setting up VFS Global in 2001. VFS Global is a brand recognised for excellence in service and has processed over 72 million visas globally. The company helped in simplifying the entire process of visa application and document collection for travellers and the travel trade. An innovator and pioneer creating new products and brands, Zubin has also always encouraged and supported the travel industry. He is also the first Asian to be appointed on the Group Executive Board of Kuoni. He has done the country and the travel fraternity proud through his pioneering accomplishments.”
Commenting on the honour bestowed upon him by ETAA, Karkaria said, “I am humbled by this honour. Entrepreneurship has always been a deeply cherished value for me, and to be recognised for this very quality by ETAA – an association forged on the fundamental promise of entrepreneurship – is truly an honour. I would like to thank ETAA and all its members, and thank VFS Global’s multiple stakeholders for their support and conviction. I have believed in taking calculated entrepreneurial risks, and I urge ETAA members and all travel agents to pay more attention to their entrepreneurial instincts.”