‘We want industry to be healthy’

Sunil Kumar R, who has been re-elected as the UFTAA president, discusses the team’s key focus areas which includes appealing to the governments of the world to give priority to ‘vaccine equity’. It also urges them to encourage the industry by introducing a ‘travel friendly policy’ for vaccinated travel.

Hazel Jain

The United Federation of Travel Agents Association (UFTAA) held its Annual General Assembly – Virtual in June where Sunil Kumar, Immediate Past President of TAAI, was re-elected as President of UFTAA. Speaking in an exclusive interview with TRAVTALK, he says, “We see a big agenda on hand for the incoming year and therefore we had to take on very active members on board this year. We want the industry to be healthy. Some parts of the world have opened up now. But each country can’t have their own laws pertaining to vaccinated travellers. There has to be a ‘vaccine equity’.”

This relates to a uniform policy for travel formalities. The introduction of complex procedures by few governments, in the opinion of UFTAA can delay the most required turnaround of the tourism industry to its previous robust levels. In the opinion of UFTAA, the international cooperation that exists in the development of vaccines must also be reflected in the setting of international standards for the management of passenger traffic between countries.

Kumar adds, “Unless the governments are able to collaborate and create a uniform travel policy, it would not only create confusion but also deter potential passengers from undertaking travel. We seek a ‘uniform policy’ in comparison to each government creating their own policy. We have unanimously resolved to appeal to the governments of the world, along with sharing a document on ‘vaccine equity’. Unless there are adequate opinions voiced, demanding a uniform travel policy related to vaccinated travel, the attention on this subject may not be a priority.”Vaccine Equity is in two specific areas:Equitable distribution of vaccines worldwide, and uniform travel related policy linked to Vaccine Equity

Prepare yourselves!

Travel agents and tourism operators need to prepare themselves, says Kumar. “The marketplace is not going to be the same anymore. The approaches to marketing will be different. The expectations of the customer will be different. There has got to be an online access all the time. The traditional way of running a travel agency will not work well in the post-pandemic era which will start sometime later this year. They must evolve,” he says. UFTAA has also reduced its membership fee by 50% or more for the 2020-2021 term. Jet Airways saga Commenting on the development on return of Jet Airways, Kumar says, “If agents fail to make payments to airlines, it is terminated from IATA. But in this case, airlines continued to be IATA members. Should any agent go bust, the airline is protected. If an airline goes bust, is the agent protected? The answer is no! Jet Airways is a classic example. We don’t want the new Jet Airways to be given IATA permission at all. If I as an IATA agent default, I can’t come back to IATA unless I pay back the money. So Jet Airways has to make good all their liabilities.”

New team at UFTAA

President: Sunil Kumar Rumalla (TAAI) – India

Vice President and Chairman Air & IATA Matters: Yossef Fatael (IITOA) – Israel

Vice President (Finance): Trevor Rajaratnam (TAASL) – Sri Lanka

Vice President (Tourism): Cetin Gurcun (TURSAB) – Turkey

Director: Mohammad Wanyoike (KATA) – Kenya

Director: VarshaRamchurn (MAITA) – Mauritius

Director: Joe Olivier Borg– Malta

Director: Adriana Miori – Italy

Director: William D’souza – Canada

Director: Richard Lohento – ATOV, Benin

Director: Guizhen Sun – CATS, China

Board Invitee: Achyut Gurgain – NATTA, Nepal



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