The Travel Agents Federation of India held their annual convention in Chiang Mai on October 22-25, 2009. In a landmark tie-up between the Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) and Tourism Authority of Thailand, Pradip Lulla, president of TAFI, and Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, director of TAT New Delhi office on behalf of TAT, organized the Travel Agents Federation of India Convention 2009.
Indian travel agents and tour operators that attended the TAFI convention in Chiang Mai were wowed with Chiang Mai. From Doi Suthep to the Panda family, the city has met and surpassed the expectations of the delegates attending the convention.
Following the convention, from October 25–28, delegates had the opportunity to participate in a three-night familiarization trip to 10 destinations in Thailand and beyond. Destinations in the planned itinerary were Bangkok, Pattaya, Hua Hin, Phuket, Chiang Rai, Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
The city and its administrators did an excellent job of welcoming the Indian market to Chiang Mai. It is poised to boost visit Chiang Mai, as well as Northern Thailand form the Indian sub-continent.
The convention theme was “Breaking Barriers – Believe to Achieve,” and the business sessions and speakers were aimed at preparing agents for a tough and challenging business cycle as agents prepared to live with zero airline commissions.
There were many interesting speakers and presentations including our very own Thailand speaker, Andrew Wood, who spoke on the topic of “The Green Imperative – The Challenges before Travel and Tourism.” Mr. Wood is Skal International’s chairman of Responsible Tourism for Skal International Worldwide and is also the general manager of the Chaophya Park Hotel in Bangkok.
The TAFI convention was well attended with over 900 delegates finally making it to Chiang Mai. Thailand hoteliers and travel trade suppliers attended the 2-day, B2B sessions and took the numbers to over 1,000 delegates.
Major sponsors for the convention were the Tourism Authority of Thailand, and the official carrier was Thai Airways International. Congress Hotels were the Shangri-La and Le Meridien Chiang Mai.
Previous TAFI Conventions were held in Mauritius, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, and Kota Kinabalu. Each of these destinations has seen a steep increase in Indian tourist arrivals as a result of the conventions.
The city was so full that for the first time in many months, the airport was stretched with airlines reporting overbooking and all flights to Bangkok being sold out.
It is good to see Chiang Mai so busy again, and it is time for this rose of the north to make a recovery. Hopefully, the Indian market will be in the forefront helping to revive the city’s fortunes.