ATOAI elects new team

The new office bearers and Executive Committee team of Adventure Tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI) were announced at its recently-concluded elections held at The Park Hotel, New Delhi.

Kanchan Nath

The Adventure Tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI) has recently elected its new team in Delhi. While Capt Swadesh Kumar, Managing Director, Shikhar Travels India, has been re-elected as President for 2019-21 term, Sanjay Basu, Managing Director, Far Horizon Tours and Tejbir Singh Anand, Managing Director, Holiday Moods Adventures have been elected as Senior Vice President and Vice President respectively. Vaibhav Kala, Founder, Aquaterra Adventures, is the Treasurer and Vinayak Koul, Director, Snow Lion Expeditions is the new Secretary. The elected Executive Committee members are Akshay Kumar, CEO, Mercury Himalayan Exploration; Ajeet Bajaj, Managing Director, Snow Leopard Adventures; Rajesh Ojha, Co-founder, Banjara Camps and Retreats; Ravi S Kalra, Managing Director, Travel Inn; Vishwas Makhija, Founder & CEO, India Insight Tours; CDR Sam Samuel, Managing Director, Kalypso Adventures and Pradeep Murthy, Founder and Director, Muddy Boots Vacations.

Speaking on his re-election, Kumar says, “This is my fifth term as president and I reluctantly accepted this post because I wanted to give a new direction to this association. The focus this term is to include as many adventure tour operators as possible in the association. I want all the 15,000 adventure tour operators to be a part of ATOAI. The association has brought out a guidebook on safety guideline.”

New team with renewed vision

He adds, “We work in very fragile areas of the country including the borders and green areas and we want to educate the new joiners on the same.”

This is the first time two EC members have been elected from South India. The ATOAI team aims to take the association to new heights and get international recognition. The office bearers will endeavour to resolve issues that have been plaguing adventure tourism in the country. The objective is to have more like-minded people to come together and place India on the world map for various adventure tourism activities.

For the next two years, the focus will be on major industry issues such as client safety, clean environment, quality control, trained adventure guides, educational seminars for training of outdoor staff in first aid and promoting sustainable adventure tourism.

Kumar wants the government to accept adventure tourism as an independent product. “We need to be segregated from niche tourism label to an independent segment under the Ministry of Tourism.”

Addressing the challenges in the industry, he said, “Satellite phones are a necessary instrument required for any adventure activity in the country. Unfortunately, the use of sat phones is not permitted in India. We have been struggling for the same for the last eight to nine years. Sat phones must be easily available to us.”

Another drawback, he mentioned, was to obtain ‘X’ mountaineering visa for mountain climbing. “There are restrictions for tourists visiting certain mountain peaks. The rule stating that you can trek anywhere but cannot climb a peak, needs to change,” Kumar shared.

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