The 33rd edition of the IATO Convention, 2017 ended on a positive note having witnessed the presence of more than 1,200 delegates in the b2b event that focused on re-inventing the tourism sector in India with the theme ‘Indian Tourism – Time to reinvent ourselves’.
The convention was inaugurated by chief minister of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik in the presence of newly-appointed union tourism minister, Alphons Kannanthanam. The convention took place at the Mayfair Convention Centre, Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
The various sessions of the convention covered topics such as, “Next Generation-Challenges and Opportunities”, “Moving Beyond Culture and Heritage”, “Aviation-New Policies and New Opportunities”, “FAITH and the GST Journey” and “Marketing-Stop Serving Old Wine in a New Bottle” attended by the likes of Homa Mistry, CEO, Trail Blazers Tours; R H Khwaja, Former Tourism Secretary, Govt of India; Barun Channa, Walter Thompson Worldwide; Hemant Mediratta, Vice-president Oberoi Group; Rajeev Kohli, JMD, Creative Travel; EM Najeeb, Chairman, AIR Travel Enterprises; Suresh Nair, GM, Air Asia; Sanjay Kumar, COO, Indigo Airlines along with several experts, IATO office bearers, travel writers, tour operators and hospitality coordinators.
One of the major highlights was the “Run for Responsible Tourism”, an event to promote responsible and sustainable tourism in the country.
— IATO (@Official_IATO) September 9, 2017
The Honorary Secretary of IATO and Co- Chairman of the convention committee Lally Mathews commented, “The convention has come up pretty well. Initially, there was a low response but towards the end of the starting date, we started getting a positive response. Bhubaneswar was planned as the destination for the convention since the beginning of the year, making it easier for us to design the Convention and its sessions accordingly.”
Elaborating on the importance of the theme, he explained, “The theme was chosen because lately, we have seen that the number of inbound tourists have dropped and with a lot of policy changes from the Government and introduction of GST, it is a time when we have to re-invent ourselves. So, we have come here to plan our new strategies and find ways to cater to the problem of low numbers.”
J K Mohanty, Chairman and Managing Director (CMD), Swosti Group shared his experience of attending the 33rd IATO annual convention. In his words, “In this year’s convention, we are seeing new companies and tour operators being introduced, who have come to explore Odisha. I am sure that after this tour of Odisha, most of them are going to include Odisha in their travel itineraries. Thus, Odisha will stand to benefit out of this convention.” Mohanty is also the chairman of Hotel and Restaurant Association of Odisha (HRAO) and chairman (eastern region) of IATO. He received the ‘Hall of Fame’ award by IATO.
Souvagya Mohapatra, executive director, Mayfair Hotels and Resorts and executive committee member, The Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) stated that it was a great opportunity to have hosted the IATO Convention. “I have been attending the convention for the past 15 years and it has only improved since then. The convention has witnessed a lot of support pouring in from the government and tour agencies and now, they are also shifting focus to promote tourism digitally to work on increasing the connectivity. This change in the forum is welcoming,” he added.
This is what Rajeev Kohli, Joint Managing Director, Creative Travel had to say:
— IATO (@Official_IATO) September 8, 2017