Hopes ride high at IATO convention

The IATO convention concluded successfully at the Leela Gandhinagar from December 16 to 19, 2021 with a whopping 740 attendees from across the country, including representatives from the government, state tourism boards, hotels, airlines and IATO members.

Nisha Verma

An air of positivity floated around at the Leela Gandhinagar, which saw attendees for the 36th IATO Convention descend from across the country. The three-day convention began on a high note with Bhupendrabhai Patel, CM, Gujarat inaugurating the convention alongside G Kamala Vardhan Rao, DG, MOT, Hareet Shukla, Secretary, Gujarat Tourism with Rajiv Mehra, President, IATO and other office bearers. Addressing the audience, Patel said, “In line with the theme-‘Brand India- Road to Recovery’, we need to work towards turning the setback of the pandemic into a comeback. With the various offerings of Gujarat, we plan to make it a global hub of tourism.” Mehra shared that a total of 740 delegates attended the convention.

Day 2 of the convention started with the IATO Run for Responsible Tourism. The session ‘Hotels in the New Normal’, grabbed attention and saw in presence the head honchos of the hospitality chains in India. One achievement of this discussion was special rates for IATO members and travel agents by IHCL with a promo code. This is being worked out by IHCL and will be announced by first week of January 2022.

The convention had senior officials from the Centre in the panel discussions and in the valedictory session, including, Rakesh Kumar Verma, AS, Tourism; Rupinder Brar, ADG, Tourism; Rajiv Jalota, Chairman Mumbai Port Trust and Raj Muthuraj, ADG, DGFT. From the State Governments there was SK Srivastava, Dept. of Forests & Environment, Gujarat; Shilpa Gupta, Addl. MD, MP Tourism Board; Manoj Kumar, MD, Jungle Lodges & Resort, Govt. of Karnataka;  GS Itoo, Director, Kashmir Tourism;  Rajiv Jain, Addl. GM, IRCTC and Dr. Abhay Sinha, DG, Services Export Promotion Council (SEPC). From the private sector, there was Sanjay Kumar, Chief Strategy & Revenue Officer, IndiGo;  Nakul Anand, Executive Director, ITC Hotels & Chairman FAITH; Puneet Chhatwal, MD & CEO, IHCL; Anuraag Bhatnagar, COO, The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts; Ajay Bakaya, MD, Sarovar Hotels & Resorts and CA Talati, Chairman SEPC. Also, renowned film actor Ashish Vidyarthi conducted the motivational session.

Concluding the convention, Mehra said, “A lot was discussed during the three days of the convention and we will forward a copy to the MOT with our suggestions and to seek their help in the areas that may need interventions.”

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