TAFI held a year-end meeting of its National Joint Council on December 17th to review the year gone by and to formulate a strategy for the year ahead. Following the physical meeting in Gujarat a couple of months ago, this meeting was held virtually via Zoom. The National MC and all the Chapter Chairmen participated in the meeting.
President Ajay Prakash in his opening address and briefing congratulated the Chapter Chairmen for holding regular meetings and the various sub-committees for the commendable work done over the last 6 months. He reiterated his belief that an Association derives its strength not from its leaders, but its members and exhorted the Chairs of the various committees to continue the good work and to engage regularly with the membership. He praised the efforts of the membership committee which has significantly increased the TAFI membership by almost 100 in the last few months. The Social Media committee was lauded for the excellent outreach which has resulted in generating greater awareness about TAFI. Similarly, the Tourism and the Visa Facilitation committees have been very active and Anandaveloo and the Communication Committee has done a great job of regularly producing a fortnightly Newsletter, he said.
Ajay Prakash briefed the Joint Council on the meetings he, along with other office bearers, has had recently with the Civil Aviation Minister, the Tourism Secretary, the Additional Secretary and the Addl. DG Tourism, all of whom were very receptive and took note of the issues raised by TAFI. TAFI has urged the Tourism Ministry to liberalise the rules for Ministry of Tourism (MoT) recognition as that would bring more members under the umbrella and make them eligible for assistance under the schemes of the government. This would also give the government a more accurate picture of the scope and scale of the trade since, at present, a scant 1000 travel agents/tour operators are registered with the MoT.
The pernicious issue of “Ticket Capping” by airlines has been strongly taken up at the APJC and a series of meetings have been held with VFS to streamline the visa process once airline operations resume normalcy.
The issue of acceptance of agency credit cards by airlines remains a pain point for members which are being addressed with individual airlines. TAFI is also working on an insurance scheme to protect passengers and agents alike in case of Airline Bankruptcy. These will be thrust areas in 2022 according to President Ajay Prakash.
Abbas Moiz, National General Secretary, said that for the first time, TAFI plans to hold its National Convention within the country and is looking for a suitable Partner State who is looking to boost tourism and will give the requisite support. J&K, Karnataka, MP, Odisha and Kerala are the shortlisted States, but other states are welcome to bid. TAFI Conventions have invariably boosted tourism numbers in the host destination and it’s high time, said Abbas that we look to bolster domestic tourism which has been our mainstay for the last 21 months.
Going forward, the mood was upbeat in relation to Domestic travel and tourism within the country and optimistic about scheduled international flight operations restarting, once the reduced virulence of the Omicron variant is clinically established. A series of Fam trips within the country to bolster the “Dekho Apna Desh” initiative are scheduled for the coming months and the TAFI website is being totally revamped. The new website will be launched in January 2022.
Jitul Mehta, Chairman of the WI Chapter described the meeting as “productive, focused and timely and reflecting the desire of the current Managing Committee to engage meaningfully with the membership.”