TAFI Western India Chapter held a meeting in Mumbai; shifts focus on domestic tourism 

TAFI (Travel Agents Federation of India) Western Region organised a meeting cum networking session on December 22 in Mumbai with a focus on domestic tourism. Venkatesan Dhattareyan, Regional Director, West & Central Region, MoT, GOI, gave a presentation highlighting the potential of domestic tourism before a well attended gathering. He also spoke about different schemes available and their benefits before the members of TAFI and other guests.

Speaking about the event Jitul Mehta, Chairman, Western India Chapter, said that the event is all about promoting domestic tourism. “We as an association are very serious about domestic tourism and therefore got in touch with Dhattareyan who came here and gave a fantastic presentation before our members. Through his presentation our members got an insight about various schemes of the Central Government. Besides this, he also explained how MoT is helping the travel agents during this difficult time who have registered with the MoT,” said Mehta.

Through this event TAFI provided a platform between its members and the government. Explained Mehta, “The government has some good schemes for the tourism industry but many of our members are not aware of, hence, through this platform we opened a conversation between our members and the government,” pointed out Mehta.

The event was successful as a large number of people attended. “We are very happy with the turn out, more than 100 members had participated in the event,” said Mehta. Representatives from six airlines-Air India, IndiGo, SpiceJet, Air Asia, Vistara and GoAir also attended the event. Similarly, the event also witnessed the presence of representatives from the hospitality industry.

This year, one hundred TAFI members from Mumbai will visit Rann Ustav in Gujarat. “For the first time Gujarat Tourism is sponsoring a study tour for such a large number of people from any association. The Rann Utsav is a premium event and many of us haven’t seen it . This event is typically for NRI and popular among inbound tourists. Now, the people of India also want to visit and we will extensively promote it in the domestic segment,” revealed Mehta.

Ajay Prakash, President, TAFI, while speaking to TravelBiz Monitor on the sideline of the event, said that it is necessary for the members to appreciate the huge potential that exists in domestic tourism. “I do understand that domestic tourism is a difficult market, especially from a price point of view. But we can’t disagree with its potential. Number of people travelling domestically is 5 times higher than the combined strength of inbound and outbound travellers. There exist unique and niche segments in the domestic tourism sector. Our members need to understand that there is a market and it is up to them whether to tap that market or not. As an association, our duty is to show our members the way forward and we are doing exactly the same,” pointed out Prakash.

According to Prakash, there are 4000 IATA agents and may be 1,50,000-2,00000 non-IATA agents and all engaged in the business of tourism . “Unfortunately, there are only 1,100 registered entities with the Ministry of Tourism, GoI. So, MoT has no statistics on what is the scale and scope of the market. Not only that there is no clear guideline how people in the business can avail the opportunities the government is offering to them,” lamented Prakash. He also said that the Ministry needs to relax the conditions for accreditation of travel agents and tour operators. “We have already taken up the issue with the government and will continue to push for it,” he said.

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