The highlight for this period unquestionably has been the Round Table Conference on Opportunities and Challenges for Bilateral Travel. Organised by us in partnership with Australia India Business Council (AIBC) and supported by our corporate sponsor Accor Hotels, it was held on 9th August at the Pullman Quay Grand, Sydney Harbour.
Attended by senior representatives from almost every quarter playing a role in bilateral travel – from inbound and outbound tour operators in Australia and India, hotels, airlines, visa office, travel insurer and airports to government, media and most importantly Tourism Australia and India Tourism, this initiative of AITTC placed travel & tourism in the agenda for the first time in the chapter of Australia-India relationship.
It was promising to note the growth in numbers and spending, however I feel there is scope to do more and in this context AITTC is happy to consult and collaborate with the industry, including Tourism Australia and India Tourism in particular.
The Indian High Commissioner to Australia Dr A. M. Gondane inaugurated the proceedings. Some of the other key attendees were Indian Consul General in Sydney, B. Vanlalvawna, Phillipa Harrison Executive General Manager International and Leigh Sorenson General Manager Industry Relations from Tourism Australia, Kanchan Kukreja, Assistant Director India Tourism, Sally Fielke General Manager Corporate Affairs, Sydney Airport and Karla Juranek from DFAT. The roundtable session was moderated by Sheba Nandkeolayer, National Chair of Australia India Business Council. Phillip Boniface, our Co Chairman & Treasurer presented the vote of thanks.
Most participants felt that aviation capacity and lack of destination knowledge are two key factors affecting growth of bilateral travel. Various other issues, from visa facilitation and pricing fluctuations to airport facilities and outdated ideas were also raised. We are now in the process of preparing a report on this maiden initiative.
This conference was well timed just a week before Tourism Australia’s annual India Travel Mission event held in Pune in India from 16- 19 August.
Issues with the introduction of Goods & Services Tax in India, effective from 1st July was discussed. This new indirect tax system is having some effects on the tourism sector. It was felt that more clarification is required on the implementation of this tax, particularly with tour pricing and other related travel charges.
With spring knocking the doors in down under and autumn in India, I hope to see more travelling between the two breadth taking nations in the world.
Great news with increase in our membership numbers. This period we have three new members and I take this opportunity to welcome renowned chef Sandeep Chatterjee, elite public relation agency Inspired Luxury and high end business and incentive event manager Destination Marketing Services to our organization.
Finally I am very happy to see many of our members as finalists of the 2017 AFTA National Travel Industry Awards held at a gala dinner on 22 July in Sydney. They were Intrepid Travel( Best Wholesaler), Insight Vacations( Best International Tour Operator), Wendy Wu ( Best Specialty Wholesaler) Accor Hotels, our Corporate Sponsor ( Best Hotels Group) and Phillip Boniface, our Co-Chairman ( Best Retail Travel Agency Manager, Helloworld Carlingford – Single Location). This tells me that we are working with the best in the industry to achieve our objectives.