DEL/285/2016               8th June, 2016     
To, All Members, 
Dear Friends, 
Sub: Record Note of Discussions of the IATO Interactive Luncheon Meeting held on Wednesday, the 1st June 2016 at The Pride Plaza Hotel, New Delhi
Placed below please find Record Note of Discussions of the IATO Interactive Luncheon Meeting held on Wednesday, the 1st June 2016 at The Pride Plaza Hotel, New Delhi.
With best regards,
Lally Mathews
Hony. Secretary 

Record Note of Discussions of the IATO Interactive Luncheon Meeting held on Wednesday, the 1st June, 2016 at The Pride Plaza Hotel, New Delhi
IATO Interactive Luncheon Meeting was held on Wednesday, the 1st June 2016 at The Pride Plaza Hotel, New Delhi. The meeting was attended by over 190 members were present including press and media.     
The meeting in the absence of the President/Sr. Vice President was chaired by Mr. Rajiv Mehra, Vice President. This was the first IATO Interactive Meeting after the elections.
While welcoming the members, Mr. Rajiv Mehra expressed his sincere thanks and gratitude to the members for posing faith in the newly elected members of the EC. He also welcomed and introduced the new EC members who were elected i.e.   Mr. Lally Mathews (though he need no introduction as being part of the EC earlier), Mr. Sandeep Jain, Mr. P.S. Duggal and Mr. Viney Tyagi. He also thanked Mr. Subhash Goyal, Immediate Past President for his valuable guidance always.
Mr. Mehra, thereafter mentioned that the new EC after taking over has not rested even for a single day as there have been regular meetings in the ministry on various issues. He promised that the EC will keep their efforts continued with full momentum to achieve our goals. However, members’ feedback from time to time is very useful in drawing out our strategy and preparing our representations for various meetings in the ministries. He then updated the members on the following issues:-  
There was a meeting called by the Ministry on 30th May to discuss this issue.  Following issues were taken up:-  
• Multiple entry/double entry visa be allowed 
• Duration of stay should be increased from 30 days to 90 days
• Applicant should be able to apply 180 days in advance so that they could get cheaper air fares and accommodation 
• Many countries which were left out need to be included in the next phase like Italy, Saudi Arab, Maldives some CIS countries etc.  
• Having State Bank of India as the only Payment gateway is a big hurdle. There is a need to improve the situation by introducing at least two more nationalized banks in the payment gateway. 
• Very soon some positive announcements should be coming for Multi Entry visa/longer stay (beyond 30 days) etc. 
A meeting was held with the Hon’ble Chief Minister/Tourism Minister of Delhi on 16th May 2016 at Delhi Government Secretariat, where other industry association IATO, TAFI, FHRAI, HAI, TAAI and a few hoteliers were present. Mr. Sarkar attended this meeting to represent IATO. Following issues were taken up by IATO President:- 
Luxury Tax on hotels to be charged on actual room tariff and not on rack rate. Hon’ble Chief Minister has agreed to call another meeting where his officials from finance department would be present.
Plying of diesel vehicle - as per the Hon’ble Supreme Court Orders, 5 years permit is not enough as some of the permits are getting over immediately or in few months/years. Therefore our requirement for providing transport to the tourists cannot be met. Hence new guidelines need to be made for the new Tourist Vehicles. As per the Supreme Court orders suggestion are to be given within one month by the Delhi Govt. Delhi Government need to file reply within one month with the Supreme Court where our recommendations would be added.
Issue of Licence by the Delhi Government for the Tour Operators:- Another issue taken up was about the irrelevant information being asked by the Delhi Tourism for getting license by our members. We have requested that irrelevant information like record of luggage, cloak room facility, submitting of monthly status report should be removed. Also Police Verification/Character certificate should not be asked and instead copy of passport should be the valid document.
Another meeting was called by the Secretary (Tourism), Delhi Government on 24th May 2016, which was attended by Mr. Mehra. The meeting was called to discuss Delhi Tourism Policy and master plan for promotion of tourism and tourism infrastructure in Delhi. During the meeting, it was mentioned in very clear terms that first let the Delhi Government look into the problems of tour operators about the license, luxury tax and All India Tourism Permit for tourist vehicles and thereafter we shall discuss other issues. 
The Ministry of Tourism has proposed to organize a two day BRICS Convention on Tourism on 31st August and 1st September 2016 in Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh. The Convention would be held at the Ministerial level, wherein Hon’ble Minister would invite his counterparts from BRICS countries. There would be 20-25 participants from each country and the delegation would have sizeable representation from Travel Trade, Hospitality, MICE etc. The Events being organized would be more people-centric in nature and the objective would be to showcase “Brand India” amongst the BRICS nations. A meeting was held on 25th May with the Secretary Tourism, where representatives of IATO, FHARI, ITDC and the Secretary Tourism Madhya Pradesh Government were present. The programme was discussed in length and Secretary (Tourism) wanted IATO to forward 02 itineraries for 03 days as a Post Tour, which has been submitted. 
Thereafter Mr. Lally Mathews, Hony. Secretary thanked the members for all their support and reposing faith in him and assured that the entire team in the EC will work with full sincerity for the benefit of the industry. He expressed his happiness on being back with all his colleagues who had been a big support during his previous tenure in the EC. He mentioned that it is really challenging to carry out day to day work in the association. But at the same time, it gives us lot of satisfaction to work for our industry and when we achieve success, it gives us immense pleasure. He mentioned that soon after taking over, we had very useful EC meeting on 13th May, 2016 and we looked into the areas where our immediate attention is needed. 
Mr. Lally Mathews, in his in-house announcements updated the members on following issues:- 
To grow and strengthen IATO, EC his initiated a membership drive in each state/region, with the support from IATO Regional and State Chapter Chairmen. Also EC has taken a decision to waive off Registration fees for new membership applications from North East Region (Seven Sisters plus Sikkim) and Andaman & Nicobar Island till 31st March, 2017. In our last EC meeting on 13th May 2016, EC has approved 35 new applications for membership. 
During the first meeting, EC also discussed in detail about the complaints members have raised during the elections about the enquires being generated from Ministry of Tourism website  For this, EC unanimously agreed in forming a Website Enquiry Committee under me. The committee met on 20th May to discuss this issue and how this can be streamlined. After the meeting the committee had made following recommendations:-   
• To issue a circular to the members and advise them the technical details and how they should fill up their profile so that they can get more enquiries. 
• The existing website is obsolete and a new website to be developed, which should be more user friendly, interactive, responsive, CMS based with MIS and compatible to mobile app and other social media apps. 
• The enquiries being generated should go to all the Active Members in rotation. Whosoever will be interested to handle the tour will revert, but from IATO side, there would not be any restriction and enquires would go to all the active members in rotation. 
A meeting was held with the ministry on 10th May where issue of revision in the guidelines for partial Fam Trips was discussed. We took up with the ministry that since mid-April, all the proposals from our members about assistance for Partial Fam Tours have been kept on hold and many of our members are suffering. In fact, ministry wanted to withdraw this scheme. However, on request from our President, ministry agreed to continue with this scheme. But an upper ceiling will be put where each agent would be given maximum 15 air tickets. Also our members need to apply with MoT Headquarters in Delhi only. The file has been sent to the finance department for approval and we shall circulate the revised guidelines very soon. 
Similarly, MDA guidelines are also being revised and shall be shared with the members very soon. This matter was also discussed during the meeting on 10th May 2016.     
For the FAM Tours of the Ministry of Tourism, which are being handled by our members under hospitality programme, the existing rates of hotels, transport, guides etc. were agreed by the Ministry two years back. Since then, there is lot of escalation in the room and transport rates and recently hiked guide fees. We had a meeting with Joint Secretary Tourism Mr. Suman Billa in this regard and have sent our proposal to revise the rates. We have also requested that for the cities like Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Hyderabad, Bhubaneswar, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Aurangabad, Goa, Ahmedabad, North East States, rates should be increased and should be equivalent to rates prevalent to metropolitan cities, as it is difficult to get rooms @ Rs. 6000 in these cities with all the three meals in view of cost escalation. Also we have requested that in many cases members book the rooms at higher rates in one city and get lower rates in other city for a particular FAM Tour than the approved rate by the ministry. In such cases, tour operator who is handling the tour should be allowed to adjust the amount within the approved consolidated amount of that FAM Tour.    
Mr. Pronab Sarkar had a meeting with Secretary (Tourism) on 7th April and took up various issues, which are negatively impacting the tourism growth. Secretary Tourism requested IATO to give its recommendations for the International Marketing Plan and the same were submitted to him on 12th April 2016, which mainly included the following:-
• During the first and second phase, key focus should be on the source markets.
• Advertising which has come down drastically, should be improved and should be focussed throughout the year. 
• Country wise campaign plan for advertisements
• Social media campaign in different languages on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram etc. 
• There is a big need to control negative publicity by the government. 
DRV (German Tour Operators Association) Annual Convention is proposed to be held in 2017 in India, which may be in between September to November. Exact dates are yet to be decided by DRV. Further details would follow.  
A Meeting with Mrs. Rajni Hasija, GGM North Zone – IRCTC was held on 12 May 2016 and problems for the bookings on the Maharaja Express were discussed. The main issue was heavy discounts being offered to Indian customers, which are not available to GSAs and agents selling Maharaja Express. Mr. Raj Bajaj was requested to update the members on this.   
A panel discussion was held on 20th May in Kochi (Ernakulum) on the subject “Changing Accommodation Booking Trends – Arriving at a Win-Win for Hotels and Tour Operators”. A core section was formed with representations from IATO, KTM, ATTOI, AATO, ADTOI, CATO, AACHK, TDPC, MHRA WTO and SKFH.  The need for ethical business practices was voiced and it was observed that a few OTA’s are following unethical practices by underselling the hotels than the displayed rates by means of promo codes and cash back schemes. The tour operator community of Kerala has unanimously arrived at a decision that the member agents would henceforth be promoting hotels who would be featured under the umbrella of “Preferred Hotel Partner” which is open to hotels who “WOULD NOT BE FEATURING THEIR PROPERTY IN ANY VOUCHER CODE PROMOTIONS/CASH BACK SCHEMES BY OTAs”. The tour operator community of Kerala, in return commits to support their Preferred Hotel Partners except in special cases where there is specific requirement or client choice. Hotels/Properties who wish to be preferred partner could enroll themselves online and there is a link given for registration
Mr. Mathews also requested all the members they we should support such hotels that will be featured. 
Mr. Mathews thanked Mr. Vinay Bhardwaj, General Manager – Sales and Marketing, Mr. Ranjit Singh Chauhan, Associate Director of Sales, The Pride Hotels and the entire team for hosting this fabulous luncheon meeting.  
After the in-house announcements, Mr. Subhash Goyal, Immediate Past President expressed his thanks and gratitude to all the members for the love and affection he has received from the members during his tenure with IATO.  He mentioned that it was due to the support and unity of the members that we achieved a lot. He also mentioned about the ethics in business and praised the action being taken by the tour operators in Kerala and was hopeful, this will be followed pan India. He mentioned that in the next FAITH meeting the matter will be taken up with FHRAI and HAI to prevail upon the hotels that whatever rates are being offered on the internet, should be commissionable to tour operators. 
Thereafter, Mr. Raj Bajaj, Coordinator, Railway Committee apprised the members about the meetings, IATO had with Railways and IRCTC. Issues that have been taken up are as follows:-
• Discounts being offered by IRCTC on Maharaja Express on direct booking for the domestic customers and non-availability of such discounts to GSAs and IATO members.
• Problems on Group bookings for the foreign tourists. 
• Problem of Dual Tariff for the luxury trains 
• Provision of attaching luxury coaches in the popular trains like Rajdhani Express etc., which should be of international class on higher charges.   
• Entry pass to be issued to the IATO members on the lines of airport entry passes.    
Mr. Prabhat Gupta from M/s. Gupta Overseas briefed the members about the benefits that our members can take under SEIS announced in the EXIM Policy of Foreign Trade Policy of the Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India. Members who are interested to avail their services may get in touch with Mr. Sanjeev Gupta – (M) 09811053080 or Mr. PRABHAAT GUPTA - (M) 09811062656
After the presentation on SEIS, Mr. Dilbagh Singh, DGM, National Insurance Company was introduced to the members. He mentioned that National Insurance Company is the third largest insurance company and is going to be more customer oriented. Special insurance policy for the tour operators have been made which will be on the basis of turnover of the company. Members who are interested may get in touch with Mr. Ashish Bansal (M) 09815030000 or Mr. Akash Arora (M) 09560466663. 
Mr. Vinay Bhardwaj, General Manager (Sales and Marketing), The Pride Hotel made a brief AV presentation on their property and invited the members to go around the property for inspection and the facilities available in the hotel after the lunch.  
Vote of Thanks was delivered by Mr. Amaresh Tiwari, Hony. Treasurer who mentioned that we all need to work hard with unity and take IATO to newer heights. He urged the members to work for the industry and to keep our efforts continue to impress upon the government to listen to the industry. 
He thanked Mr. Sanjeev Gupta for updating the members about the benefits of SEIS under EXIM Policy. He also thanked Mr. Dilbagh Singh DGM, National Insurance Corporation for coming and offering special insurance policy for the tour operators. 
He thanked, Mr. Vinay Bhardwaj, Mr. Ranjit Singh Chauhan and Mr. Pankaj Mathur for hosting the IATO lunch. 
He thanked the members and press and media for coming in large numbers. 
Meeting ended with vote of thanks to the chair.