Important issues pending with the Ministry
10th December 2018
To, All Members
Sub: Important issues pending with the Ministry
In follow up to the points discussed during our Active Members meeting held on 4th October and IATO luncheon meeting held on 5th December, 2018, a letter has been sent to Hon’ble Minister of Tourism, Government of India with copy to all the senior officials in the Ministry. This is for your information and shall keep you update with the development.
DEL/314/2018 6th December 2018
Mr. K.J. Alphons
Minister of State for Tourism
Ministry of Tourism
Government of India
Hon’ble Minister Sir,
Sub: Important issues pending with the ministry
Greetings from IATO !
I am writing this letter to bring in to your attention the pending issues for which IATO has been pleading for a long time but we are still awaiting for a decision/approval from the Ministry, and there are some emerging issues which need immediate attention in the interest of tourism business, which are as follows:-
1. Revised Guidelines for Marketing Development Assistance (MDA) Scheme 2017
We had written to you on 25th May 2018 and had meeting also in the ministry regarding revised guidelines for Marketing Development Assistance (MDA) Scheme – 2017. As per the revised Guidelines from 1st April 2017, many of our small tour operators who were participating in overseas travel marts or for overseas sales promotions are not able to do so because of the stringent clause of requirement for the tour operators to show a cumulative increase of Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEE) during a three years’ period, to be eligible for financial support under the MDA scheme. Unfortunately, some of our small/medium size tour operators have not been able to achieve this target of increase in foreign exchange and they would be deprived of the MDA benefits effective 01 April 2018 due to the following reasons:-
- OTAs and direct booking by the hotels to the clients at lower rates, have resulted in reduction of bookings thus loss of business and decrease in turnover/Foreign Exchange earnings.
- Due to impact of GST on our industry tour operators have lost business.
- Many larger companies have taken away business of small/medium size tour operators by undercutting, this has again resulted in loss of business.
- In certain cases with increase in turn over, foreign tour operators have opened their own offices in India, thus making a huge loss for the small/medium tour operators.
We had therefore, requested to remove the clause of requirement of 5% increase in turnover at least for next 3 years. This will help our small and medium tour operators in big way and they can participate in overseas travel marts and go for sales promotions and marketing to help in achieving our target of 20 million tourists by 2020.
2. Revision in Hotel, Transport and Guide rates for Handling of FAM Tour by IATO Members for the hospitality guests of the Ministry of Tourism
Our members are handling various FAM tours of the ministry on the basis of the rates decided mutually between MoT and IATO in 2014, whereas our suppliers, i.e. hotels and transporters etc., revise their tariff every year with effect from 01st October. In 2016 we requested for a revision in the hotel and transport rates, which were discussed in the ministry, but were not implemented. In 2017 due to revision in service tax, we were allowed to add taxes on the agreed value. After 4 years of handling the FAM tours by the members of IATO, there is a dire need to revise the hotel, transport and guide rates as these rates were mutually agreed by Ministry and IATO based on the prevailing rates in 2014. Our members are finding it difficult to handle the tour on the rates of 2014. We would like to mention here that there have been 3 revisions in hotel rates since 2014 and due to which 5 star category hotels are not available at old rates and we are forced to provide 4 star category hotels to our guests in majority of cases whereas against our desire.
We have submitted our proposal with the revised rates and whatever clarifications were asked have been given to the ministry. In this regard we had number of meetings in the Ministry (OM Division) but awaiting approval from the Ministry till this date.
The IATO members handling the FAM tours, will have to strictly follow the norms of providing quality service and to use 5 Star Category hotel for the accommodation in all cities. In the absence of revision in the rates for last 4 years, it has become difficult for our members to provide the quality service. But due to very low rates, our members are reluctant to handle the tours as they are not able to provide the services on old rates, Hence, approval for revision in rates should be conveyed to us urgently.
We have also requested that payment to the handling agents must be released within 15 days from the date of submission of the bills. Normally payments are delayed for months even year in some cases and our members find it difficult to manage as they need to make payments to hotels, transporters, guides etc. on time.
3. Revision in Guidelines for Recognition of Tour Operators by the Ministry
There is remarkable change in business operations. Technical advances have made tour operators to do business online for which requirement of having minimum staff or trained/qualified staff in office and that too tourism degree/diploma holder from recognised universities has become invalid. Being mostly a family business, the business is being so run professionally with basic infrastructure of desktop and Wi-Fi and most details are obtained through internet. Also to have big office space is not required and many tour operators are working from home or sharing small space, which is enough for business operations. They are registered with GST department, income tax department and filing their returns and doing proper business. Many such small tour operators are doing very good business but due to not being able to meet the requirement of staff and the space etc. they are not able to renew their approval of their recognition from the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. Due to strict compliance needed for having minimum 4 trained staff, many cases are pending for approval. This has become deterrent for our members to apply for MoT recognition. It is requested that guidelines for MoT recognition be relaxed by having minimum two qualified staff of which one director and another person having 5 years of experience working with any tour operators should be considered as qualified. Also having minimum space requirement should be removed and tour operators should be allowed to work from home or in a building with common toilet.
4. Incredible India Road Shows
During last year, Ministry of Tourism organised number of Road Shows in various countries/cities wherein our members also participated. However, our members have expressed their concern about the information being received from the Ministry at a very late stage. Also no timely information being communicated to us about the cities, dates, programme etc., which resulted very thin participation of stake holders in the Road Show. Due to such reasons, road shows have not proved progressively any positive results. Participants have found this as a waste of money and the time. This matter was discussed in length in our interactive meeting held on 14th November 2018 and members have desired the following :-
a) IATO will send in advance its proposal for the Road Shows for the whole financial year 2019-20 i.e. 1st April 2019 to 31st March 2020 with suggested destinations (countries/cities) and the dates for approval by the Ministry. Once cities/dates are approved by the Ministry, there will be no change/cancellation of Road Shows.
b) There should be a gap of at least one day in each road show covering four cities on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and following Monday, so that stakeholder participating in the road Shows have enough time for follow up and meeting their counterparts and make the roadshows productive.
c) Indiatourism Offices overseas to finalise the venue and the programme and convey to the Ministry and IATO once road shows are approved by the Ministry.
d) Indiatourism offices should ensure to hire good PR Agency in consultation with IATO for the arrangements and also ensure to invite potential tour operators who are already promoting and the new tour operators who wish to promote India in their packages. On this IATO be part of the selection committee for inviting the overseas tour operators. No Ticketing agents should be invited for the road shows.
e) Responsibility of organising such road Shows may be entrusted to IATO for which 100 % funds may be used by the Ministry. IATO will higher the PR Agency and will make all the logistical arrangements in coordination with concerned Indiatourism Office and the PR Agency. Members participating will make expenses for their travel, lodging & Boarding and local transport and all information will be made available to them in advance.
5. Tourist Offices Overseas
With the closure of some of the Indiatourism Offices in important source markets like Sydney, Paris, Amsterdam, Milan, Los Angeles, Toronto, Johannesburg, etc. there is dire need to have Tourist Information Centre/Tourism Cell in Embassies/High Commissions of those countries, where at least one or two trained persons could be appointed with full knowledge of Indian Tourism products and know local language. They also service online enquiries and direct mailing to clients.
6. Leads/Queries from Ministry of Tourism Website
Earlier, a link was given on the home page of Ministry of Tourism, Government of India website “Book a Tour package” and the visitors who wanted to book any India tour package, were being diverted to IATO Tour Packages and once any visitor click on the tour package such queries were going to the IATO members in rotation.
Recently, the new website of Ministry of Tourism, Government of India has been made where no such link has been given and leads/queries which were coming to our members has been discontinued. For Booking a Tour Package on the IATO website link is http://www.iato.in/tourpackages/lists . This should be on the home page and prominent in order to generate queries from overseas. Also this link should be on all the pages so that visitors can book the tour easily. Also on the new website, on the home page www.incredibleindia.org at the bottom, IATO Logo is given, along with other logos. However, the size of logos are very small and also black and white. Size of Logos should be increased.
7. Calendar of Events
Ministry of Tourism and Indiatourism offices participate in many overseas and domestic travel marts etc. and also they organize promotional events for which information is received by us on a very short notice for participation of stakeholders. Some time we even do not get the information about such events. Each office be directed to prepare calendar of events which they submit to the ministry for circulation to the members so that they can also schedule their participation accordingly and inform their counterparts overseas to visit the India stand. That gives positive response and value to participation in the events. Also for the domestic events/marts of MoT, where they need industry participation and names to be recommended by IATO, information should come with advance notice of atleast 45 days so that our members can recommend the right names of their foreign tour operators whom MoT can extend hospitality for the event.
8. Incredible India Tourist Facilitators Certification Programme
Our Ministry has recently launched Incredible India Tourist Facilitators Certification Programme on 15th November, 2018. No doubt this will ease some what the issue of escorts or accompanying interpretations. Incidentally, need of language trained people was always pleaded by IATO to ensure there is continuous flow of trained people in the industry. No doubt it will be achieved through this project. With launching of this new certification programme, there will be lot of new job opportunities in every nook and corner of the country in tourism field and also foreign tourists will enjoy the local services.
The real issue is to ascertain whether these new entrants will be allowed entry to ASI monuments for interpretation purpose, whether the license given to them will be valid for visits to state monuments or heritage monuments as the license is for Pan India. What will be the remuneration for them and what about the existing Regional Level Guides. Presently the guide policy of ASI is subjudice and Ministry’s intervention is needed in the matter.
This is to request you to kindly look into the above issues and give us an appointment to call on you to discuss these issues as per date and time convenient to you.
Thanking you and with best regards,
Mr. Yogendra Tripathi, Secretary (Tourism), Ministry of Tourism, Government of India
Mr. Satyajeet Rajan, Director General (Tourism), Ministry of Tourism, Government of India
Mrs. Meenakshi Sharma, Additional Director General (Tourism), Ministry of Tourism, Government of India
Mr. Suman Billa, Joint Secretary (Tourism), Ministry of Tourism, Government of India
29th November 2018
Mr. Satyajeet Rajan
Director General (Tourism)
Ministry of Tourism
Government of India
Sub: Feedback from the stakeholder on WTM – 2018
I am writing this letter to share with you the feedback from our members who attended World Travel Mart -2018 in November this year as co-exhibitors in India Pavilion of the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India.
- Our ministry had taken a huge space where very few stakeholders participated as co-exhibitors and it was only the state tourism departments who were present. With taking such a huge space, probably the cost of booths had gone up and Indian tour operators participated in less numbers.
- Ministry is confirming space at a very late stage and also booth numbers to the stakeholders are conveyed to them very late. The resultant affect being the tour operators are not able to fix up appointments with foreign counterparts.
- During the India Evening at WTM, none of Indian tour operators who were the co-exhibitors were invited. The sole purpose of organizing India Evening is to have interaction between the stakeholders thus to create business. If no tour operators from India are present, there is no use of having India Evening and the vary purpose of organising India Evening is defeated.
I would like to make the following recommendations so that participation of our Ministry and the stakeholders should be meaningful and we can attract more visitors to India Pavilion and in turn generate business for our country.
- Ministry should hire space well in advance and booths to be allotted to the stakeholders atleast 3 to 4 months in advance so that stakeholder can inform their foreign counterparts and fixup appointments.
- India Evening are a good platform for our tour operator members to interact with overseas tour operators and convert to real business and increase the international tourist arrivals. Otherwise such events do not serve any purpose except some goodwill gesture. Therefore, it is essential that all co – exhibitors who take booth in India Pavilion should be allowed to participate in India Evening programme organised during WTM, ITB, Arabian Travel Mart, FITUR, TOPRESSA etc. to make such events a business platform.
Hope our suggestions will be favourably considered for the forthcoming events.
With best regards,
Copy to: Mrs. Meenakshi Sharma, Additional Director General (Tourism), Ministry of Tourism, Government of India
Mr. Suman Billa, Joint Secretary (Tourism), Ministry of Tourism, Government of India