Gearing up for webinar marathon

Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI) has its kitty full with visa trainings, webinars, roadshows, a Turkey Education Tour, lobbying for GST rebate and focusing on regional chapters.

OTOAI President Guldeep Singh Sahni reveals, “We are making our regional chapters active. We want our chapter members to be active in association work, and thus apart from having regular members meet, we will be adding more things like trainings, etc.” The association will have a meeting in Ahmedabad in December. “We are going to now penetrate regions within the regions. At the Ahmedabad members meet, all the Gujarat members are going to discuss agendas which they will be sending to the main office bearers in Delhi.”

OTOAI recently held a Malaysian visa training event for its members at the Malaysian High Commission in New Delhi in collaboration with Malaysia Tourism. “It was a full-fledged training where we had around 80-100 members attending the workshop,” Sahni says.

The association is also organising several webinars for different destinations. “We had a webinar with Scotland Tourism and we are going to have another one with them in the second week of December. In the first week of December, we will have a webinar with a cruise supplier, and we will be doing more such webinars in the future as well,” he adds. He said that January 2017 will also see them partnering for roadshows with destinations like Britain and Scotland as well. The Turkey Education Tour, which was postponed in September, is now happening in March next year. “It is going to be a purely educational tour, and we are designing it right now. First, we want to educate the members about what is happening in Turkey, and second stage of the tour will be educating our members about the product. It will be a six-day tour and will be sponsored by Turkish-Indian Travel Council,” he reveals. Sahni said that they are planning to do a celebratory event for OTOAI very soon. “We are going to celebrate the existence of OTOAI, or celebrate a festival in any city within India. It will be an informal event, and we are thinking of doing such an event once in a year.”

While all these initiatives are there, Sahni says that the most important issue is of GST. “We have already written to the government. We are meeting senior people from the Finance Ministry to highlight our concern. The biggest problem is that when the tour operator is booking an international package, he is being charged 18 per cent tax, but the same doesn’t apply when someone goes and books the same services online. This will in turn take a toll on our business. We offer services which are produced and consumed outside the country, and ideally, they shouldn’t be taxed in India. The government can tax our profits, which is not an issue. The tour operators’ businesses can’t be categorised into export or import.”

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