NEW DELHI, India – On December 3, 2011, the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) held its elections for the 2011-2013 Office Bearers and Executive Committee. The elections took place at the Claridges Hotel in New Delhi.
Mr. Subhash Goyal and his team were elected with overwhelming majority to lead the association for the next two years.
This year’s elections created a new record in IATO’s history in member participation. Of a 274 eligible voters, 256 exercised their franchise. A record 93 percent is the highest voter turnout in any IATO election, announced Goyal.
The results were as follows:
• For President – Mr. Subhash Goyal, Stic Travels Pvt. Ltd. (183 votes)
• For Sr. Vice President – Mr. Sarab Jit Singh, Travelite, India (156 Votes)
• For Vice President – Mr. Rajeev Kohli, Creative Travel Pvt. Ltd. (167 Votes)
• For Hony. Secretary – Mr. Lally Mathews, Vacations Travels & Tours Pvt. Ltd. (161 votes)
• For Hony. Treasurer – Mr. Arun Anand, Midtown Travels Pvt. Ltd. (165 votes)
• For Hon. Joint Secretary – Mr. Lajpat Rai, Lotus Trans Travel Pvt. Ltd. (161 votes)
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEMBERS – ACTIVE
1. Mr. Amaresh Kumar Tiwari, A.T. Seasons and Vacations Travel Pvt. Ltd. – (130 votes)
2. Mr. E.M. Najeeb, The Great India Tour Company Pvt. Ltd. (193 votes)
3. Mr. Rajiv Mehra, Uday Tours & Travel Pvt. Ltd. (173 votes)
4. Mr. Ramesh Wattal, Welcome Travels (139 votes)
5. Mr. Ravi Gosain, Erco Travels Pvt. Ltd. (157 votes)
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEMBERS – ALLIED
1. Mr. N.S. Rathor, Garha Tours Pvt. Ltd. (160 votes)
2. Mr. O.P. Mendiratta, Parkland Group of Hotels (173 votes)
3. Mr. Sunil Gupta, Travel Bureau (223 votes)
Also on the committee there will be outgoing President Vijay Thakur in the constitutional seat reserved for this position.
Subhash and his team campaigned under the theme of “Moving Forward” and promised complete transparency.
Shri Goyal briefly announced the team’s agenda which focused on the following areas:
• To deliver greater transparency in the functioning of IATO with a greater focus on the needs of small and medium members.
• To move IATO from being a reactive body to being a proactive body.
• To bring in a greater degree of foresightedness on how IATO money is to be spent.
• To bring in a greater emphasis on training, skills building, and giving practical tools to help members grow and sustain their businesses.
• To create an industry “Code of Conduct” between the members that governs the way they treat each other and our partners.
He also mentioned issues which they would like to take up with the government of India and various ministries, which briefly included:
1. DEEMED EXPORT STATUS FOR FOREIGN EXCHANGE EARNING FOR INBOUND TOUR OPERATORS
It is indeed surprising that the foreign exchange earned by the inbound tour operators who are approved by the Ministry of Tourism, government of India, are not exempted from the service tax. In order to provide relief and encourage the tour operators in the current scenario of global economic slowdown, it is proposed that foreign exchange earned by inbound tour operators be considered as “deemed export” and full service tax exemption be provided to them so that they get reimbursement in the service tax at par with the other exporters. It is important that the current tour operators are able to pass on some incentives to the end users to encourage traffic of inbound tours in the unexplored touristic destinations/ illage tourism.
2. STATE LUXURY TAX
This is our long pending demand, and IATO had been taking up this matter with the Ministry of Tourism and also the states directly. Luxury tax in some of the states is very high and varies from 5 percent to 20 percent in different states. Some states charge on the actual rate, and some on rack rates (published rate). Each state has it’s own criteria. In the bargain, the tourism industry suffers.
It is, therefore, our earnest endeavor that until the time GST is implemented, the luxury tax on hotel rooms is to be rationalized by all the statesm and it should not be more than 5 percent.
3. RATIONALIAATION OF STATE TRANSPORT TAXES
(i) Adhoc taxation is levied on transport sector by each state. Tax on vehicles of home state and visiting vehicles from other states vary from state to state. There is an urgent need of rationalization of the taxation on transport by different state governments. Uniform taxes need to be adopted and transport tax should not be considered separate subject.
(ii) Road tax should not be charged on the number of seats in the bus but on the actual number of passengers in the bus. This would ensure augmentation of tourist buses in the shortest possible time. A fool-proof mechanism to implement this can be worked out in consultation with the tax authorities.
(iii) Also there should be single tax collection point for the inter-state tourist vehicles moving from one state to another state to avoid un-necessary harassment causing delay and inconvenience to the tourists.
(iv) All state transport taxes should be covered under the GST.
(v) Smart card should be introduced to avoid delays and waiting time at borders.
4. VISA ON ARRIVAL
IATO welcomes the Visa on Arrival scheme for 11 countries. It is now that the scheme which should be further extended to other countries as well. It is imperative to introduce the concept of e-visas at par with some of the advanced nations, after having worked out a fool-proof mechanism, keeping in view the security/safety angle in mind.
5. 60 DAYS GAP FOR RE-ENTRY CLAUSE TO BE WITHDRAWN
There are some instances that bonafide tourists want to revisit India within 60 days of their last visit. The matter needs to be re-looked at, and the government should withdraw the condition of the 60 days gap between the last exit from India, as the Commonwealth Games are over now. This discourages business groups and also the groups who wish to re-enter India within 60 days, from their own country or after visiting the South East or Far East countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Dubai as their final departure is from India. The case under reference is request from Trailblazers Tours India Pvt. Ltd.
6. DELAY IN ISSUANCE OF VISA
There is delay in issuing visas, as the missions abroad and agency appointed by the embassies take their time in processing. Outsourcing to other tour companies (including some tour operators) has created a logjam. The average time taken for the visas is 15 to 25 days.
7. GROUP VISAS
Indian missions are not willing to accept passports for visa in one go, and clients are asked to submit passports in small numbers. Clients are required to make a separate check for every lot submitted.
The team assured full cooperation to all, with a special request to the print/electronic media to kindly extend full support and efforts of this new team. It is only through the active support of the media that the industry can enter into the next stage of development/creation of better amenities and infrastructure. It is in this process that the media can play a vital role in the image building of the industry in its proper perspective.