35th IATO Annual Convention was organised from 12-15 September 21019 in Kolkata at Kolkata with commendable attendance of over 1000 delegates. The venue of the convention was ITC Royal Bengal and the inauguration of the convention was held at Biswa Bangla Convention Centre. Mr. Pronab Sarkar was the Chairman of the convention with Mr. Rajnish Kaistha and Mr. Debjit Dutta as the Co-Chairmen.  Our members liked the strong content of the Business Sessions, learned Speakers, Social evenings, motivational talk by Shri Chetan Bhagat and the 6 well designed Post-Convention Tours.

Kolkata is the gateway city to the North East and the Eastern Region. IATO Convention reached this destination after 17 years and in its quest to promote Incredible India in a balanced format the city of Joy was chosen. 

The Theme of the 35th IATO Convention “Is Tourism Thriving? Challenges and Opportunities” was apt in today’s scenario. Tourism has immense potential and is thriving with its vital linkage effect to the diverse sectors of our economy. It is one of Ts in the agenda of our Honorable Prime Minister, who further endorsed tourism when he addressed the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort on the 15th of August 2019. However, there is a lot more to cover and a pertinent SWOT analysis was imperative. 

The Inauguration of the convention was held at the Vishwa Bangal Convention Centre, the pride of Kolkata, one the largest in South Asia and an ideal centre for MICE Tourism. Shri Goutam Deb, Hon’ble Minister -in -Charge, Tourism Department, Government of West Bengal delivered the Inaugural address. Shri Atri Bhattacharya, Principal Secretary Tourism, Government of West Bengal gave the Key Note Address. Shri Pronab Sarkar, President IATO and Chairman of the 35th Convention gave the Presidential address.  Welcome Address by Mr. Debjit Dutta, Co Chairman Convention, Special Address by Shri Debashish Sen, Additional Chief Secretary, Govt of West Bengal & Chairman HIDCO, Guest of Honour address by Shri Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi, Minister of State (IC) for Tourism, Government of Odisha and Vote of Thanks by Shri Rajnish Kaistha, the Co-Chairman of the 35th IATO Annual Convention adorned the Inaugural Function. 

Shri. Patu Keswani, Chairman and Managing Director of Lemon Tree Hotels Ltd was conferred the IATO Hall of Fame Award for 2019 for his remarkable achievements and for his contribution for providing opportunities for the physically challenged and economically/socially weaker segment. 

IATO Manual 2019, was released by Shri Goutam Deb, Hon’ble Minister -in -Charge, Tourism Department, Government of West Bengal and other dignitaries present at the Inaugural function.

The Inaugural witnessed an overwhelming attendance from IATO members, non-members, travel media, senior officials from the Government of West Bengal, centre and various state governments and other tourism professionals pan India.

The 35th Convention was also graced by the presence of Smt. Meenakkshi Sharma, Director General (Tourism), Smt Rupinder Brar, Additional Director General Tourism and other key officials from Ministry of Tourism, Government of India

The sessions of the convention focused on the Challenges and opportunities that shall boost the growth of tourism, looked at key niche areas of Cruise Tourism, Digital Marketing, Connectivity, Synergy among Eastern States for tourism promotion and marketing, charted out unexplored destinations, listened to the new generation of tourism professionals, the ticklish issues of taxation, presentation by 17 States Governments and above all grasped the ideas of Ministry of Tourism Government of India. A motivational talk by Shri Chetan Bhagat provided the cutting edge.

During the convention, India Tourism Mart was organized. It was inaugurated by Shri Goutam Deb, Hon’ble Minister -in -Charge, Tourism Department, Government of West Bengal, Shri Atri Bhattacharya, Principal Secretary Tourism, Govt of West Bengal, Smt Meenakkshi Sharma, DG Tourism, Smt Rupinder Brar, ADG Tourism and other dignitaries. Besides the Ministry of Tourism and the Host State West Bengal all 15 other states exhibited their products. IATO Run was organized on 14th September 2019, where over 150 delegates participated.

Shri Prahlad Singh Patel, Hon’ble Minister for Tourism, Government of India was the Chief Guest at the Valedictory Session. A Vision Document made by IATO in consultation with M/s. Ernst & Young on the subject “Tourism – An Engine for Economic Growth and Employment Generation” was released by   Shri Prahlad Singh Patel, Hon’ble Minister for Tourism, Government of India in the presence of other dignitaries

Post-convention, various post tours were organized from 15th September on different sectors and were attended by large number of our members.     

The IATO team thanks West Bengal Government under the leadership of Hon’ble  Chief Minister of West Bengal Kumari Mamata Banerjee for all the support. It is to place on record our sincere thanks to Ministry of Tourism, Government of India and all the State Governments who supported us i.e.  Andaman & Nicobar, Gujarat, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka,  Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, Thanks to ITC Royal Bengal, ITC Sonar, Vivanta, Ibis and all the hotels and others who supported us for the Fam Trips and IATO Run.  Thanks to Air India and IndiGo for the special fare and door prizes. Thanks to all in the organizing committee for their hard work and excellent work done for the convention. Thanks to press and media for the excellent coverage given to IATO for the convention. Last and not the least thanks to members for their support to the association and participating in this grand event. The team at the association hope that it will continue to receive such overwhelming response from its members, the government as well as its sponsors every year.