The 32nd IATO Annual Convention was held from 18th to 21st September 2016 at ITC Grand Chola Chennai, Tamil Nadu. The theme of the convention was “Expectations and Realities – Bridging the Gap”. Mr. Rajeev Kohli was the Chairman of the convention along with Mr. Rajiv Mehra as the Co-Chairman.
One of the most awaited travel industry event was inaugurated on 19th September 2016 at ITC Grand Chola, Chennai by Thiru Vellamandi N. Natarajan, Hon’ble Tourism Minister, Government of Tamil Nadu, Thiru. Pandiarajan K, Ministry of School Education, Sports & Youth Welfare and Archaeology, Govt. of Tamil Nadu in the presence of Shri Ashok Chandra Panda, Minister of Tourism & Culture, Govt. of Odisha, Mr. Vinod Zutshi, Secretary (Tourism), Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India. Mr. T.K Ramachandran, Principal Secretary Tourism, Government of Tamil Nadu, Mr. Har Sahay Meena, Commissioner (Tourism) and MD, Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation, Mr. Nakul Anand, Chairman- FAITH and a host of senior of?cials from both the Central and State Government Ministries. These included Secretaries, Commissioners/MD Tourism and Managing Directors of 10 states governments and invited guests, speakers, Industry professionals, media members etc. Over 1200 delegates were present. The event proved to be commendable mix of government decision makers and professionals of the tourism industry.
The event started with a colourful cultural programme of Bharat Natyam sponsored by Tamil Nadu Tourism which was followed by lighting of the lamp by the dignitaries on the stage.
In his welcome address, Mr. Rajeev Kohli - Senior Vice President and Convention Chairman mentioned that Tamil Nadu offers diverse range of tourism products and we wish to harness their potential through the power of IATO members to get more tourists to Chennai and Tamil Nadu.
In his presidential address Mr. Pronab Sarkar, President IATO talked about the problems being faced by the industry especially tourist transport permits, need of international standard toilets at monuments and wayside amenities, language speaking guides and state of the art international convention centre in Tamil Nadu. Two minutes silence was observed in memory of 17 soldiers who lost their lives in Uri (J & K).
Mr. Nakul Anand, Chairman FAITH mentioned that tourism not only makes economy strong but it gives inevitable indemnity to the country.
Mr. Har Sahay Meena, Commissioner and MD, Tamil Nadu Tourism expressed his happiness that the IATO convention was being held in Chennai for the first time in the state, which will certainly help in boosting tourism in Tamil Nadu.
Mr. Ramachandran, Principal Secretary (Tourism), Tamil Nadu while addressing the delegates requested the delegates to stay back after the convention and visit spots of tourist interest, which will help them to format packages and promote in international markets.
Mr. Vinod Zutshi, Secretary Tourism, Govt. of India mentioned the role of IATO in tourism promotion and the IATO convention that offers opportunities to meet and review the trends.
Mr. Ashok Chandra Panda, Minister for Tourism and Culture, Govt. of Odisha, thanked IATO for inviting him for the convention and also he announced the next 33rd IATO Convention in Bhubaneswar and assured full support of Odisha Tourism.
Mr. Pandiarajan K, Minister Ministry of School Education, Sports & Youth Welfare and Archaeology, Govt. of Tamil Nadu thanked IATO for choosing Chennai, Tamil Nadu venue for the prestigious Annual Convention and talked about various positive steps taken for states over all development. He emphasized on the development of tourism in Tamil Nadu which will generate job opportunities in Tamil Nadu. He also assured that all such issues which are negatively impacting the industry will be taken up with the concerned departments and will be resolved as soon as possible.
Mr. Natarajan, Tourism Minister of Tamil Nadu in his address profusely thanked IATO and mentioned that with the support from Hon’ble Chief Minister, the tourism in the state is booming.
This was followed by Hall of Fame Award which was given to Mr. Suresh Periwal, Chairman, Clubside Tours for his excellent service to the tourism Industry especially in Sikkim and North East Region.
Vote of thanks was raised by Rajiv Mehra, Vice President and Co-Chairman Convention.
Coinciding with the Convention, inauguration of Travel Mart took place. The Cultural evening and the Gala Dinner was hosted by Tamil Nadu Tourism.
Interesting business sessions were organized during the convention, which were attended by the delegates in large number.
For the first time the format of the convention was changed and on 18th September 2016, the sessions were opened to IATO active members and tour operators/travel agents only. Sessions on 19th and 20th September 2016 were opened for all. The main topics of business sessions were:-
• Changing Clients
• Best Practices and Supplier Management
• Guides – Improving the Partnership
• The Indian Skies – Looking into the Future
• Tourism and the Media
• Industry Partnerships – working together for the greater good
• Going beyond the shores
• Getting from A to B
• The GST and Tourism
• The Traditional vs the New
• Being different – the only way to succeed
• Making the best of your trade show participation
• Taking us into a digital world
• Look South
• Best in HR Practices
Coinciding with the IATO Convention, IATO Run was organised on 20th September 2016 at Marina Beach, Chennai, which was organised by Mr. Amaresh Tiwari. Over 250 delegates participated in the Run.
Thiru Pandiarajan K. - Ministry of School Education, Sports & Youth Welfare and Archaeology, Govt. of Tamil Nadu was the Chief Guest during the Valedictory Session. Awards were given to the winners of IATO Run, Marketing Innovation Competition and mementoes were presented to the State Governments, Airlines, hotels etc. who supported IATO for making this convention a grand success.
Besides the host state Tamil Nadu, the other States who participated and sponsored the convention were Delhi, Gujarat, Jammu & Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India supported the convention. IndiGo, Jet Airways, Air India, Ethiopian Airlines, Sri Lankan Airlines were the airline sponsors. Tamil Nadu Tourism hosted a dinner 19th September 2016 at ITC Grand Chola and the dinner on 20th September 2016 was hosted by ITC Hotels. We also got full support from the other hotels i.e. Le Royal Meridien, Park Hyatt, Crowne Plaza, The Park, Ibis, The Trident, The Fortune, GRT Grand who provided special rates for the delegates and looked after the delegates with good hospitality. MGM Beach Resort, Sangam Hotel, Ideal Beach Resort, Mantra Resort, Radisson GRT hosted the delegates by offering complimentary rooms and meals for the post tours. Reed Exhibitions, Travel Bureau and Agra Walk hosted tea breaks. Cholan Tours, Parveen Travels, Ashok Oswal Group, Travel Scape, Alliance Hotels and Resorts, Sphere Media, Anantra Resort were the other sponsors. On behalf of the Executive Committee, I would like to thank all the sponsoring states and other sponsors for making this convention a grand success.
After the convention, post-convention tours were organized, which were attended by large number of our members. They all were very happy with the hospitality extended by the sponsors.
I would like to thank all the members in the organizing committee especially Mr. Rajeev Kohli and Mr. Rajiv Mehra. Thanks to Mr. Sandeep Jain and Mr. Pandian for handling the transport and post-convention tours effectively. Also thanks to Mr. Kannan for assisting in handling the post-convention tours.
I would like to extend special thanks to Mr. Pandian for local coordination with the state government and for all the help in the convention work.
Thanks to all our friends in Chennai who helped our Chapter Chairman in making this convention a big success. Thanks to all the media members for attending the convention and giving due coverage.
Thanks to all our members for their participation in large numbers. Thanks to the entire staff at the IATO Secretariat for working hard and making this convention a grand success.