to build 50 hotels; adopt village in Rajasthan
Sept 7: In a landmark historic decision, IATO,
the largest body of tour operators, has decided
to build 50 hotels across the country to meet
the shortage of hotel rooms which was proving
as a stumbling block in boosting foreign arrivals.
its three-day annual convention at Jaipur, the
Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) has
called upon the Government to either modify the
service tax to charge it on the 10 per cent earnings
of the travel agents and tour operators or face
the challenge in a court of law.
cooperative or a company would be floated by IATO
for this purpose with its members as shareholders.
We are going to create millions of jobs and eradicate
poverty from India as these hotels will revolutionise
the tourism sector," announced Mr Subhash
Goyal, IATO President, while presiding the IATO
convention inaugurated by the Rajasthan Governor,
Mrs Pratibha Patil.
Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh governments have
already promised to identify suitable lands that
they will offer on cheaper cost in order to promote
public-private partnership in the tourism industry.
a gesture of goodwill to the state of Rajasthan
where at least 300 persons have died and lakhs
have become uprooted from their hearths and homes
due to flash floods in some districts, IATO donated
a sum of Rs. 1.11 lakh for relief and rehabilitation
cheque for this amount was presented to the Rajasthan
Governor, Mrs Pratibha Patil, who was the chief
guest at the inaugural function. Such humanistic
gestures are not new to IATO which had also been
helping the earthquake and flood affected victims
in different parts of the country. IATO also offered
to adopt one of the affected villages for rehabilitation.
India emerging as the fourth preferred destination
of foreign tourists after Italy, New Zealand and
Australia, the Indian tourism industry is on the
verge of taking off. The tour operators, however,
say they have been suffering due to shrinking
commission being given to them by the hotel and
aviation sectors, lack of hotel rooms and inability
of hotels to honour their commitments leading
interest among foreign tourists to explore India
has led to a significant surge in the overall
numbers of inbound tourists to the tune of 29.2
per cent over the past two years. The serial blasts
in western metropolis Mumbai and looming terrorist
threats notwithstanding, India managed to attract
630,438 foreign tourists in July and August this
year as compared to 563,124 of the same period
far 2,785,328 foreign tourists have come to India
in the first eight months of the current calendar
year as against 2,120,492 in 2004 and 2,454,352
last year. This has resulted into a considerable
increase in foreign exchange earnings that have
gone up to USD 4,016.50 million up to the end
of August this year as against USD 3,566.57 and
2,917.67 millions respectively in the first eight
months of 2005 and 2004 respectively.
most preferred season for foreign tourists is
between October and March. A total of 1,280,524
foreign tourists arrived in India in the first
three months of 2006, spending USD 1,774.77 million.
The tourism industry is expecting more bookings
when the actual tourism season starts next month.
the IATO has given them of 'new opportunities
and challenges ahead' to their convention being
attended by a record 1,546 delegates.
Union Tourism Minister, Mrs Ambika Soni, who could
not make it to the inaugural session, however,
promised her ministry's full cooperation in meeting
the growing demands in her message. She emphasised
the need for a greater government-private sector
partnership and taking up the demand of tour operators
of tax parity across the country with the finance
Indian tour operators are demanding visa on arrival
and introduction of e-visas being practiced by
many countries. This will cut down on the time
factor that they say works as a dampener for many
foreign tourists keen on visiting India.
Pratibha Patil said that the success story of
Rajasthan tourism should be adopted by the other
States. She also emphasized on developing medical
tourism in the country. "We have some of
the best heart surgeons in the world and a heart
surgery here costs much less," she added.
Governor said Rajasthan was the first state to
have come out with a State Hotel Policy which
she hoped would contribute significantly to tourism
growth in the State.
who spoke at the inaugural session included Rajasthan
Tourism Minister, Mrs Usha Punia, Madhya Pradesh
Tourism Minister Yashodhara Raje, Union Tourism
Secretary, Mr A K Misra, Rajasthan Tourism Secretary,
Mr Vindo Zutshi and Rajasthan Commissioner Tourism,
Mr A K Singh.
Usha Punia, said that there was a 36 per cent
increase in the tourist inflow to her State, Rajasthan,
between January to July this year. She said, road
and air connectivity between different parts of
the state and the country was being expanded and
the construction of new hotels would increase
through selling of land to hotel entrepreneurs
at half the commercial price.
her passionate key note address, the Madhya Pradesh
Chief Minister, Mrs Yashodhara Raje, dwelt in
length on the beauty and grandeur of the places
of tourist interest like Orchha, Chanderi, Sanchi,
Pachmarhi and Omkareshwar in her State.
her state as "the very heart of India",
Mrs Raje extended a warm welcome to the delegates
to come and see it for themselves. She also outlined
the measures being taken by her government to
boost tourism in her state.
Chairman of the Convention, Mr Pranob Sarkar,
said as many as 1,546 delegates are attending
the convention. "This is the largest number
of delegates attending a convention in IATO's
history," he said to a loud applause.
IATO Vice President, Mr Vijay Thakur, read a very
optimistic message from the President, Dr APJ
Convention Co-Chairman, Mr Rajesh Mudgil, proposed
a vote of thanks.
Governor also released a copy of the IATO Tour
Operators' Manual 2006 and gave away the Hall
of Fame award to Mr Bhim Singh, Managing Director,
Rajasthan Tours Pvt. Ltd, for his life time achievement
and contribution to the Indian tourism industry.
Hall of Fame, other awards presented by IATO were:
Vinod Banbah Award for excellence in service to
Mr R.K. Yadav, TGS Tours; Badri Nath Bajaj Scholarship
Award to Ms Sudha Deval of I.I.T.M., Jaipur; Pradeep
Sanghla Award to Mr Satyendra K. Tiwari; L.K.
Bakshi award for excellence in Journalism to Mr
S. Suresh, UNI; and the Connaught Award for excellence
in Journalism to Ms Preeti Mathur.
the delegates enjoyed a colorful, fun-filled evening
at the City Palace. It was sponsored by Intercontinental
Airport at Ajmer
Sept 7: A virtual boom awaits Muslim tourists intending
to visit the holy Ajmer Sharif dargah. The Rajasthan
government has announced construction of a new airport
at Ajmer, which is 131 kms east of the state capital
present foreign tourists intending to visit Ajmer
have to travel by road either form Jaipur or from
the national capital Delhi.
it may take a while before Ajmer is connected by
regular service flights, construction of a new airport
would enable them reach the holy town in a chartered
flight after reaching India.
Convention Day 2
Business Session: Infrastructure Opportunities and
Makhan announces relief for guest houses
Sept 8: The Union Minister of State for Urban Development,
Mr Ajay Maken, has said his Government had amended
the Master Plan on Thursday night to allow the survival
of many of guest houses in Delhi. Elaborating, Mr.
Maken said under the amendments such guest houses
could now function in A and B colonies.
the first business session on "Infrastructure
Opportunities and Challenges, on Day Two of the
IATO Convention here, the Minister said the stipulation
of maximum limit of 7000 sq. ft. of area and minimum
of 15 rooms per guest house had also been waived.
he said the condition of a minimum of 7 sq. ft.
of width in the streets where they are located had
also been removed.
IATO President, Mr Goyal, who was the moderator
of the session, had expressed his fears that their
closure under the current sealing drive would lead
to the sapping of the only source of revenue of
thousand of senior citizens, widows and ex army
men who were in this business.
clarifying a point raised by a delegate, Mr Maken
said that if a tour operator functioned through
internet from one of the rooms of his residence,
"there should not be any problem in treating
him as a professional."
Maken said that though in the amendments tour
operators have been left out of the definition
of professionals, due consideration would be given
when the Master Plan is further amended within
two or three months.
Maken attributed the shortage of 20,000 hotel
rooms in Delhi to the practice of auctioning of
land for hotels. He also wanted a flexible policy
to be adopted for the conversion of land use on
the payment of prime price.
Secretary, Union Ministry of Tourism, Mr. A.K.
Misra, admitted that there was a mismatch in demand
and supply in respect of infrastructure facilities
but the era of scarcity was bound to be followed
by the era of excess.
Misra said while there was no lack of flow of
investments, the construction of tings like airports,
cruise terminals and railway stations took a longer
gestation period and hence the mismatch.
Tourism Secretary, Mr Vinod Zutshi and Principal
BD, IDFC, Mr Prem Subramaniam, also addressed
Session 2: Branding and Marketing a destination
Sept 8: Amitabh Kant, Joint Secretary, Union Ministry
of Tourism, in his truly vibrant form steered a
presentation from its statistics form to active
interactive discussion showcasing achievements and
the road map ahead for the brand "Incredible
that branding and positioning is the capacity building
of all service providers' right from the tax drivers/
software up to the infrastructure/ hardware of the
Navin Berry, Director, Cross Section Publications,
highlighted how to further mature branding and the
need to conquer SWOT analysis.
Kishan, General Manager, Indian, spoke about co-branding
with airlines on domestic routes.
Nandan, Director, Union Ministry of Tourism, emphasized
how response mechanism in brand building is the
key to success in this venture.
Lohani, Managing Director, MP Tourism Development
Corporation, began on a humble note admitting to
having learnt branding from Incredible India and
Kerala toursis. He emphasized on constant innovation
of new products. He put forth destination plan for
Session 3: Emerging Tourism Opportunities: Rural,
Health, Heritage, Adventure and Sports
Sept 8: The sessioin on Emerging opportunities for
tourism was chaired by Mr. Bezburua, former Secretary
of Tourism, Government of India. The other participants
included Col. N. Kumar, Managing Director, Mercury
Himalayan Explorations, Dr P K Goel, Managing Director,
Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation,
Dr A R Siddiqui, Deputy Superintendent Archaeologist,
ASI and Mr Sudhir Sahi, UNDP Consultant.
Col. Kumar stated that western countries have cashed
on their white gold. Austrians skiing industry is
one of the foremost industries of the country. There
were hotels in the high regions, which used to be
closed during winter. So many hotels have now come
up for winter tourism that only some of them remain
closed in summers now.
He pointed out in 1970 when he suggested starting
of rafting tourism he was laughed at. Now they are
50 companies operating on Ganges alone bringing
great prosperity to the area.
Unfortunately, the Govt is not giving them adequate
support though the rafting season has started the
beaches have still not been allotted to the companies.
The operators have already booked their clients
and taken money upfront.
N Kumar also pointed out though India has twice
as much as Himalayas as Nepal, its mountain travel
share of business is not even 1/10th. It is all
due to bureaucratic hassles. Government takes
three months to clear an expedition and if the
one name is changed the expedition is off.
At macro level he suggested that all tourism related
events like skiing rafting mountaineering, trekking,
should come under Tourism Ministry instead of
sports, forest and Education Ministry at the state
level as well as centre level.
At micro level he requested the adventure travel
agents to make the adventure safe for the clients
as one accident could kill the industry. He also
pointed out that the adventure travel's biggest
asset is environment because clients come to these
places to avoid pollution garbage and noise. If
you don't look after environment it is only you
who loose the business.
Sudhir Sahi spoke on UNDP sponsored programme to
build up rural economy through tourism. With the
help of UNDP and Department of Tourism this organisation
is putting up arts and crafts centers at rural places
and also organising villagers to put up some accommodation
for the people who wants to come for the study traditions
and arts of tribal. He has already set up centers
all over India and asked the tour operators to come
forward on this venture.
Dr P K Goel said the Indian Railways provides more
meals then any other organisation in India. Its
USP is quality food at affordable prices prepared
under hygienic conditions. The railways are also
putting up hundreds of motels on the railway land,
which will provide bed and breakfast at reasonable
He also mentioned about the scheme where you could
hire Railway bogies for the tourists from place
to place and you could make your own catering management.
Session 4: Poor Facilitation and Over Taxation --
Deterrent to Booming Tourism
Sept 8: Renowned politician from Jammu and Kashmir
and senior advocate, Mr Bhim Singh, chaired the
session on "Over Taxation -- deterrent to booming
was unanimity that tour operators were being over
taxed. "It is the case of the golden goose
being killed for the golden egg," said Mr Bhim
speakers asked he Government to impose service tax
only on 10 per cent profit earned by tour operators
and not on 40 per cent as at present.
3: Presentations by States
Sept 9: Presentations on tourism products were made
by the tourism departments of Rajasthan, Delhi,
Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Pondicherry
his presentation, Rajasthan Secretary (Tourism),
Mr Vinod Zutshi, said "the department of tourism,
which has been at the forefront for marketing Rajasthan
at all national and international forums, had recently
announced a landmark Hotel Policy, which aims to
meet the accommodation needs.
Zutshi said emphasis was being laid on the public-private
partnership so that new investments were made in
the state and generate gainful employment for the
said Rajasthan is one of the most favoured destinations
of both domestic and international tourists. In
view of the significance of tourism in economic
development the government has taken various policy
measures for establishing tourism as a "people's
3: Industry Round Table
3: Presentation by Star Cruise and Indian Ocean
Sept 9: Star Cruises, Indian Ocean Cruises and Mohabbat
the Taj also made their presentations on the last
day of the Convention.
Session and Awards
banks, E-Visas, rational service tax demanded
By Noyanika Arora
Sept 9: The concluding session of the convention
was presided over by Rajasthan and Orissa Tourism
Ministers, Mrs Usha Punia and Mr D P Mishra respectively.
session adopted over a dozen resolutions demanding
among other things strengthening of security at
all the strategic places like airports and railway
stations, introduction of E-visa facility till visa
on arrival is not available, creation of land banks
and allotment of land to IATO and other private
entrepreneurs at concessional rates for building
of hotels, abolition of dual tariffs, greater unity
among different travel organizations and rationalisation
convention made the following recommendations:
The Government should impose service tax only on
10 per cent profit earned by tour operators and
not on 40 per cent as at present.
Safety and security of the airports, railway stations,
cruise terminals should be strengthened and facilities
enhanced at these strategic points.
Government should facilitate tour operators for
visas from major markets like France, Italy, Spain
and China. Till visa on arrival is finalized, E-Visa
facility should be introduced.
Top priorities should be given to the creation of
land banks by all the states and the allotment of
land to IATO and other hoteliers on concessional
rates for the construction of hotels on private
public partnership basis.
All hotels which have been given DOT approval should
be directed to keep 25 per cent to 30 per cent of
the letable rooms for leisure tourists so that tour
operators can offer leisure packages to the clients.
The government should intervene and regulate the
Hotels should not whimsically change the hotel tariff
and create their own categories of rooms. They should
have the categories of rooms approved by DOT during
the inspection which should be same for three years.
In fact as an industry the hotel should form 5 year
game plan on short and long term basis to facilitate
both hoteliers and tour operators.
Actual special rates should be printed by the hoteliers
on their brochures and be provided to tour operators
to enable them to pay tax on the actual price only.
Dual tariff should be withdrawn by the hotels and
airlines and the ASI to remove discrimination between
the foreign and the domestic tourists.
While IATO welcomes the impact of the Incredible
India campaign in increasing the inflow of the foreign
arrivals, it wants the offices overseas should also
be strengthened and staffed by competent officials
knowing foreign languages which are spoken in the
countries of operation.
The government should rationalize the different
taxes which are being charged by the state governments
at different points which make the tour packages
cost prohibitive and makes the tourists to avoid
India and visit other competitive countries.
Rajasthan Government should declare Rajasthan as
most tourist friendly state and abolish taxes on
tourist transport vehicles.
IATO and other trade bodies like FHRAI, TAFI, TAAI,
HAI, TGFI should work in unison to achieve maximum
results and become a force to reckon and their voices
heard by the corridors of the power.
Each State should create an environment conclusive
to the new emerging segments of tourism such as
rural, medical, adventure, spiritual, sports, spa,
yoga and MICE.
Tourism Fair (Travel Mart)
By Noyanika Arora
Convention Day 2 in Pictures
By Noyanika Arora
and Lunch on Day 2
By Noyanika Arora
Convention Day 2 & 3 in Pictures
By Noyanika Arora
By Noyanika Arora
Culture at its Best
By Noyanika Arora
convention at Jaipur from Sept 7