33rd IATO Convention initiates discussion on re-inventing tourism

The Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), the apex body of travel trade in the country, in association with the Odisha Tourism, organized its 33rd annual convention 2017 which witnessed more than 1,200 delegates.

The event focused on re-inventing the tourism sector in India with the theme ‘Indian Tourism – Time to reinvent ourselves.’

The convention was inaugurated by chief minister of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik in the presence of newly-appointed union tourism minister, Alphons Kannanthanam. The convention took place at the Mayfair Convention Centre, Bhubaneswar, Odisha.

The various sessions of the convention covered topics such as, “Next Generation-Challenges and Opportunities”, “Moving Beyond Culture and Heritage”, “Aviation-New Policies and New Opportunities”, “FAITH and the GST Journey” and “Marketing-Stop Serving Old Wine in a New Bottle.”

The event saw the auspicious presence of Homa Mistry, CEO, Trail Blazers Tours; R H Khwaja, Former Tourism Secretary, Govt of India; Barun Channa, J Walter Thompson Worldwide; Hemant Mediratta, Vice-president Oberoi Group; Rajeev Kohli, JMD, Creative Travel; EM Najeeb, Chairman, AIR Travel Enterprises. Expert representatives from Indigo Airlines, Air Asia and IATO office bearers, travel writers, tour operators and hospitality coordinators attended the event.

One of the major highlights was the “Run for Responsible Tourism”, an event to promote responsible and sustainable tourism in the country.

The Honorary Secretary of IATO and Co-Chairman of the convention committee Lally Mathews elaborating on the importance of the theme explained that the theme was chosen because lately number of inbound tourists has been dropped and with a lot of policy changes from the Government and introduction of GST, this is it really the time to “reinvent ourselves.”

Souvagya Mohapatra, Executive Director, Mayfair Hotels and Resorts and executive committee member, The Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) stated that it was a great opportunity to have hosted the IATO Convention. The convention has witnessed a lot of support pouring in from the government and tour agencies and now, they are also shifting focus to promote tourism digitally to work on increasing the connectivity.

State Tourism Secretary, Mona Sharma, said the pace of development in Odisha’s tourism sector has been manifold. Presently the growth of tourist arrival in the State is about 9 percent. Odisha’s strength is basically culture-oriented. But new forms of tourism like ethnic tourism, Buddhist tourism, ecotourism, MICE tourism have gained momentum in the State.  

The image of Odisha is transforming from the recently-held Asian Athletic Championship and Bhubaneswar being rated as the first Smart City in the country.