The 36th IATO Annual Convention held in Gandhinagar from 16-19 December 2021 was a grand success and more than what we had expected, said Mr. Rajiv Mehra, President, Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO). This convention was by far one of the best conventions of IATO as per feedback received not only from the members but few industry stalwarts who were present in the convention. This all could happen with whole-hearted support from the Mr. Hareet Shukla, Secretary Tourism, Mr. Jenu Devan, Managing Director & Commissioner Tourism, Govt. of Gujarat and his team.
Hon’ble Chief Minister of Gujarat, Shri Bhupendra Patel inaugurated the convention along with Mr. G. Kamala Vardhan Rao, Director General Tourism, Govt. of India and Mr. Hareet Shukla, Secretary Tourism, Govt. of Gujarat.
We had senior government officials from the Centre in the panel discussions and in the valedictory session which include, Mr. Rakesh Kumar Verma, Additional Secretary Tourism; Mrs. Rupinder Brar, Additional Director General Tourism; Mr. Rajiv Jalota, Chairman Mumbai Port Trust; Mr. Raj Muthuraj, Additional DG. Directorate General of Foreign Trade; and from the State Governments we had Mr. S.K. Srivastava, Dept. of Forests & Environment, Government of Gujarat; Ms. Shilpa Gupta, Additional Managing Director, Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board; Mr. Manoj Kumar. Managing Director, Jungle Lodges & Resort, Govt. of Karnataka; Mr. G.S. Itoo, Director Tourism Kashmir; Mr. Rajiv Jain, Addl. GM, IRCTC; Dr. Abhay Sinha, Director General, Services Export Promotion Council (SEPC).
Other eminent personalities on the panels were Mr. Sanjay Kumar, Chief Strategy & Revenue Officer, IndiGo; Mr. Nakul Anand, Executive Director, ITC Hotels & Chairman FAITH; Mr. Puneet Chhatwal, MD & CEO, The Indian Hotels Company Limited; Mr. Anuraag Bhatnagar, C.O.O., The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts; Mr. Ajay Bakaya, Managing Director, Sarovar Hotels & Resorts; CA Talati, Chairman SEPC; to name a few. Business sessions were very fruitful and well attended. One of the achievements of the panel discussion in Business Session on “Hotels in the New Normal” was special rates for the IATO member tour operators and travel agents by the Taj Hotels with a Promo Code which was highlight of the session. This is being worked out by the Taj Hotels and will be announced by first week of January 2022.
Mr. Ashish Vidyarthi, famous Bollywood actor and motivational speaker was the Speaker in the motivational session, who inspired the members that we need to stand strong during these crisis and look for the future opportunities.
On all the three days, we had good evening entertain programmes with singers like Abhijeet Sawant, Jimmy Felix and Urvashi Arora and members truly enjoyed it along with Karaoke singing competition.
The Leela Gandhinagar, Venue of the convention, was as imposing as its quality of excellent hospitality. All arrangements including transport were perfect to order.
This year’s IATO Run was a great fun and all participants enjoyed morning cold breeze in almost zero pollution environment with AQl level below 50. Flag off was done by Ms. Bhavina Hasmukhbhai Patel, silver medallist in table tennis in 2020 Tokyo Summer Paralympics. She was also felicitated by IATO during the inaugural function.
Following the convention, 5 post convention tours were organised and over 200 delegates explored Gujarat by visiting places of their interest like Statue of Unity, Somnath, Dwarka, Jamnagar, Porbandar, Modhera, Bhuj, Patan, Little Rann of Kutch.
The basic purpose of having this convention was to bring our members come out of their house, relax their mind, interact with each other and rebuilding confidence. Having Karaoke Singing competition was to give an opportunity to the talented members to enhance confidence and to perform on the stage, said Mr. Rajiv Mehra.