IATO adds members

With a new chairperson at the helm for Maharashtra Chapter, the association focuses on adding more members from the state and have a dialogue with the government about reducing the tax burden.

Hazel Jain

The new team of Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) recently held its first meeting after Vasuki Sundaram, Chairperson (Maharashtra Chapter), was officially selected in December 2018. Despite being relatively new in the position, Sundaram has managed to hit the ground running. She is clear in her vision for the chapter and the association and this is reflected in the roadmap she has drawn up. “Our focus area for this year is increasing our membership. We are hoping that members will come together and lay more emphasis on collaborating with each other. Members can get together and market the product together. So there is more productivity and there is co-operation amongst them,” she says.

Another area that her team is working on is visibility for the association and its members at trade shows and exhibitions. “We want members to come and participate in exhibitions and bond with each other because strength lies in numbers. We also want our members to attend more association meetings,” she adds.

The chapter will conduct more training sessions for its members – some along with India Tourism. IATO Maharashtra Chapter is also working with Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation to conduct more familiarisation tours for members.

We want to encourage members to bond with each other because strength lies in numbers. We also want our members to attend more association meetings

Sundaram reveals, “We are also looking at Tier-II, III cities. But the fact is that we don’t really need to go into the interiors because agents have come to Mumbai to attend IITT where we had more than 130 people show interest in becoming our members. So we need to filter these names and then choose because IATO lays emphasis on quality membership.”

She is also keen on continuing the dialogue with the state tourism ministry on reducing the tax burden for the industry at large. “The hotels suffer more as a room rate of `8,500 is hardly enough to cover the expense for the hotel and they are taxed on that. It becomes too expensive for us to then market India,” Sundaram adds.

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