The gains from the just-concluded 35th IATO (Indian Association of Tour Operators) Annual Convention held from September 12 to September 15 held in Kolkata, West Bengal, India, can be seen at many different levels. The event provided a focus on the eastern state of West Bengal and the call for greater industry-government links and contacts at all levels.
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It will play out in the days to come as to how these positive things are emerging and carried forward and do not simply end with the clapping at the sessions when Minister Patel called for changed perceptions.
A focus on regional travel within southeast Asia was a welcomed area of progress, as was the new-found trend of promoting cruise tourism, an area neglected for years. Today, new routes and ships have come into play, and new players mean that travel and tourism stakeholders are looking forward to better times from this segment even as the traditional issues of agent-hotel ties were mentioned.
The presence of delegates and speakers from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Srilanka, and Nepal means that in the years ahead, more will be heard and seen about regional travel. The vast coastline will be used more now with the possibility of multi-port calling. Deep sea, coastal, and river tourism also have great potential.
Another thrust area was the mention of experiential travel, away from the traditional ways of travel, with more products and destinations being offered.
IATO works closely with industry stakeholders and expands the learning horizons of its members. It has been developing appropriate strategies to implement programs of the India Ministry of Tourism related to global marketing promotions and product development. The association actively coordinates with various other Government Ministries and trade bodies and has been holding its annual convention since 1983 in various cities in India.
The intent of these annual conventions is to showcase new and emerging destinations to its members and to bringing together hundreds of senior level business travel experts from all over India to learn, share, and network over business sessions related to the latest trends and developments in the travel and tourism sector.