We are hoping and coping: TAFI

Travel Agents’ Federation of India (TAFI) president Ajay Prakash feels there is an urgent need for the travel trade to rethink as we enter the New Year 2022. We also must focus on newer destinations and do not leave opportunities to explore domestic tourism.

Hazel Jain

Recently, TAFI delegation led by its President, Ajay Prakash, visited Delhi to meet Jyotiraditya Scindia, MoCA and discuss the current situation. Prakash said of the meeting, “The minister has sound grasp of the business. Some of the issues that we raised were accepted by him. He said we have suffered enough from the pandemic, and hopes to help the trade. It was a positive meeting, and I am optimistic. He seems to be a man who knows his mind and can get things done.”

The team also met Arvind Singh, the Tourism Secretary, and called upon Rupinder Brar, ADG, MoT. Singh said that some of the issues raised by TAFI were already on the radar and were discussed with the FM. He assured the department’s support for the next TAFI Convention, which will be held in India.

Sharing his views, Prakash said, “There has been virtually no assistance given to this industry by the govt. Giving one lakh rupee loan to an agent or ten lakhs to an MSME doesn’t help. It’s too small an amount, and if there is no business, how will the businessmen pay back? So what was needed was a different kind of approach. ”

TCS is an impediment

Some of the issues that were flagged have been taken up by Scindia, said Prakash. “For instance, the matter of tax collection at source (TCS), places the Indian outbound tour operators at a huge disadvantage, as the same package can be booked by the online aggregators who have an overseas registered, that can make a five per cent difference, which is huge. This is something that the Tourism Secretary said, is being discussed with the FM. The government has other priorities right now with the Union Budget coming up. Maybe some of the issues will be taken up there. ”

2022 Prospects

Sharing his perspective, Prakash said, “COVID-19 is not going away. We hope that our government will look at issues pragmatically and slowly begin to open up. Due to restricted air capacity, the fares have shot up. Aviation moves commerce, and we need to get it back in the air. Nothing can replace the value of in-person meetings. We are hoping for a national convention in India in early 2022. We are looking at the states that are receptive to this idea. We need to rethink, re-skill and re-orient our thinking. This means we need to explore newer destinations and look at opportunities in domestic tourism.”

Jitul Mehta, Chairman, WR, TAFI said, “The Regional Director highlighted the schemes that the ministry is offering for tour operators registered with the MoT. The focus for this meeting was domestic tourism. Domestic airlines and hotel brands were also part of the event. This is the first time that IndiaTourism and hotel brands other than IHCL have been part of a TAFI event.” Mehta is now leading the Tourism Matters division at TAFI to create synergies between all tourism boards—international and states. This includes the latest updates, new destinations, creating itineraries, and educational tours.

 

 

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