IATO concluded its biennial election recently, where Rajiv Mehra was elected as the new President and EM Najeeb was re-elected as the Senior Vice President of the Association. The office bearers and EC are a mix of new and old faces.
Rajiv Mehra, President
I never believed that I would become the President of IATO, which is the leading tour operators association of the country. I am really overwhelmed with the result and the responsibility that has been bestowed upon me. There are a lot of things to be done and the time I am taking over is riddled with a lot of problems. The COVID-19 pandemic hit the industry hard and recovery will definitely take some time, so we will work in that direction to help our members. We have to work hard for the survival and revival of the fraternity and I will do my best to do that. First thing I have to do is to get the orders released for no subscription charges for next year. Then, we had promised an App within 7-10 days, and we will try to do that. Also, we need to follow up with the Ministry of Tourism (MOT) for the MDA reduction rates and SEIS, and then get after them to announce the dates for the e-visa and flights. These are some of the things which we will do as a team.
EM Najeeb, Senior Vice President
I accept the mandate of the members. Currently, the industry needs a lot of support as it’s in a very bad situation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The people are suffering and unfortunately, the industry’s requests have not been favourably heard by the government either. Even our legitimate claim of SEIS is in cold storage. I think, we need to push that again along with all the other requirements and get this done. There is a lot that still needs to be done and with the industry taking a turn for the worse due to the pandemic, we will have to strategise on how we can work towards upliftment of the sector and our people. There are many things that we could not achieve in the last term, and now we can put forward the same. The idea is to work with the entire membership and revive the industry. So, our focus will be to work for the membership and help them improve their businesses.
Ravi Gosain, Vice President
I am thankful to all who voted for me. After months of hard work in connecting with members, it’s good to see the result in one’s favour. As the VP, my duties are membership development and overlooking convention and overseas seminars. Hence, I will try to build up a strong membership base, which would be my priority. Also, one of my dreams is to have a year-long convention, which would allow people to remain connected throughout the year, which is now possible through technology. I will discuss the same with the team and see how we can take it forward. We will conduct overseas seminars and we’ll discuss how we can bring more business to members.
Rajnish Kaistha, Hony. Secretary
We look forward to working together and put the best for the membership and IATO forward, and work for the benefit of our members who have been suffering for the last one year. In the past year, the government has been taking care of various other sectors of the industry, but not tourism and its businesses. However, now is the time for tourism to take off. Hopefully, in the next few months, by the time Europe and most of the other tourism source countries get vaccinated, we will take it up with the government that they should support tourism in a bigger way. Now, if not survival, revival should come in a big way and we look forward to it positively.
Sunil Mishra, Hony. Treasurer
I am there to work for the fraternity and I will do my best. The first thing I want to do as the Treasurer is to put a stop on unnecessary expenses after the pandemic. We want to give some benefits to the members. We want to waive off or give some discount on the annual fee of the members. We also have to make IATO stronger because in the last 38 years, we have only 352 members, and we have to increase this number. We can open a few other categories and include universities and states as our members. We want to increase the number so that members can have trust in IATO. Currently, we have around 700 members, including allied members.
Sanjay Razdan, Joint Secretary
I feel very happy that the hard work that we have put in since the last many months has finally been rewarded. We will try to request the new President to consider the points that we want to address, as we really want to change the constitution, which has been pending since a long time. We also want to request the President to reverse the previous law under which many of the Active members were demoted to Allied. We would also work for small and medium-size operators, for their interest, and since the tourism industry has been suffering for long, we would like to change our stance on how we talk to the government.
Harish Mathur, EC Member – Active
This is the first time I contested and won with highest votes in EC. I feel that since the IATO team now has members from two different contesting teams, the amalgamation of the team is very important. The most important factor is that we should try and fulfil the kind of words and promises that we have given to the fraternity. Whether it is the smallest or largest issue, we have to take them very seriously and cohesively decide on the same. We need to make sure that at the end of the day, an ordinary member, who does not have the so-called association support, starts getting that support or starts feeling good, especially after the pandemic.
Deepak Bhatnagar, EC Member – Active
We will try to work together and will try to address all possible immediate concerns that need to be worked on. The industry needs to revive business, which is critical. I hope we have full support of all the office bearers and Executive Committee members. We are committed to the members and we shall try our best to revive tourism as soon as possible and also get our benefits, which are due from the government, which should be declared soon. I hope we can work as a team for the industry, and that’s our mission. I wish the new team works together as one to help the members in every way possible.
Manoj Kumar Matta, EC Member – Active
I am very happy to be elected into the new IATO team as an Active member of the Executive Cimmottee, and in this role I will be working to serve the industry and the fraternity because we all have gone through a very tough time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hence, the priority, according to me, would be to approach the government to start tourist visa as well as international flights. Without this, the tourism industry and our members will continue to suffer because their business has really taken a complete setback. Once this has been done, then people will have to look at going ahead with the marketing campaign. Also, we will approach the government to start international trade fairs, roadshows, etc. Besides that, SEIS is a crucial thing which will help people to work immediately in the industry.
Tony Marwah, EC Member – Active
This is my third term and I am grateful to the industry for giving me their blessings and support. We fought this election from two different teams, but in our manifesto there were a lot of common points that could be beneficial for our industry, and we aim to make a common minimum programme. That’s what my effort would be and I am sure there would be no resistance to it. First and foremost is revival of business, getting SEIS and having it extended for a few more years. There are a lot of other things we fought on including transparency and inclusiveness, but as of now it’s the question of our own survival, how do we revive our business, get e-visas introduced, etc. Maybe it’s early for that, but we need to fight for SEIS, which should hopefully give some relief to our membership.
Vishal Yadav, EC Member – Active
I am thankful to all for supporting me. My basic priorities, excluding the manifesto that we had for our team while contesting, is to highlight and better represent the small and medium operators, because a lot of us have many issues post-COVID, which need to be highlighted in front of the government. I also want to work on some educational, language and knowledge forums for the betterment of our members as well as of their employees. Also, my focus would be to work on bilateral ties with other countries, thereby increasing business for our members. There is an urgent need for bridging the gap between the tourism industry and the academia in the country because post-COVID, everybody needs to support each other. We will also work with the Ministry to get an Industry status for tourism.
P Vijayasarathy, EC Member – Allied
I am feeling wonderful that I have been selected for the second time in the Executive Committee. Members have given us a good mandate. We will be with the members and we will work for the members and support them at any given point of time. I want to thank all members who have voted for me, and came down to wait with us for the results and spent the whole day participating in the electoral process. I thank them from my heart for being with us. It’s a very good feeling and we will be actively working for the members’ benefits and helping them during this time of crisis, as this is the time they need our support the most. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the industry hard and now it is up to each one of us to work towards improving the situation being faced by all of us.
Zia Siddiqui, EC Member – Allied
I am very happy for being elected again and will restart my work and complete the unfinished tasks that I had started in my previous term. My passion in IATO was education and skill development. I would like to extend this to the micro and medium tour operators and will keep them ready to face the competition that is coming tomorrow after COVID-19. At that time, maximum work would be on the virtual platform. Hence, I will strengthen their knowledge on a virtual basis. My second passion is to get MOT approval for the micro or small tour operators. We will do that on a pan-India basis and the first year, I will help around 500 tour operators to get MOT approval and again next year, we will try for 500 tour operators and that’s my priority.
Ashok Dhoot, EC Member – Allied
I am very happy to be elected. My focus for my term in the Executive Committee in the 2021-2023 team of IATO will be to make sure that all the state tourism policies and issues should reach the Central government level. I will try my best to do that by making sure that most of the states remain connected to the centre, and there is an understanding between the two. This would allow smooth functioning and better resolution of issues at the state level and benefit members in every part of India. It will also facilitate a faster and more comprehensive revival of the business of tourism that has been affected severely due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The industry has gone through a lot, and it’s time that we, as a team, help them revive their businesses.
Inputs by Nisha Verma