Tag Archives: OTOAI

OTOAI to push for more members in 2018

The first members’ meet of the newly elected Executive Committee of the Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI) held in New Delhi lay emphasis on increasing the number of members. While formally presenting the new team to its members, Mahendra Vakharia, President, Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI) stressed that in 2018, the association would focus on adding to its member base substantially. He added, “Our efforts would be on advocating greater knowledge amongst the members and simultaneously to engage various tourism boards to invest in education. He also added that moving forward, a digital push will become a mandate for all industry players lest they get left behind. Signing off on a successful year despite industry challenges, the association is all geared up for the coming year.

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Airlines directly approaching customers, ignoring agents: Chitra Bhatia

Slamming Jet Airways’ move to scrap agents’ commission, Chitra Bhatia, Gen. Secretary, OTOAI, said, “I don’t think one per cent commission for agents was a big deal for the airline. Airlines need to continue the commission and partner with travel agents. Commission is a bond between the agent and the airline which should not be discontinued. Airlines are now going directly to the customer, and ignoring the agents in between. However, it is important for both the parties to work together.”

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OTOAI elects Mahendra Vakharia as President for 2017-19

Mahendra Vakharia, Managing Director, Pathfinders Holidays has been elected as the President while Himanshu Patil, Director, Kesari Tours is the new Vice President for Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI). The other office bearers are Chitra Bhatia, Director, Aashman Air Travels who is the new General Secretary; Gurdeep Gujaral, Founder Director, Gujral Tours and Travels continues to hold the post of Joint Secretary while Siddharth Khanna, Partner, Khanna Enterprises is the new Treasurer. The Executive Committee members include Ankush Nijhawan, Managing Director, Nijhawan Group, Sujit Nair, Founder and Group Managing Director, Akquasun Group, Riaz Munshi, Managing Director, N. Chirag Travels, Shravan Bhalla, Chief Executive Officer, High Flyer, Adl Karim Director, Creative Tours and Travels (India) and Rajeev Sabharwal, CEO, Gaurav Travels. Vakharia says, “I feel extremely happy, privileged and honoured to be trusted with this position. Increasing our membership across India remains to be our top priority.” The state chairmen will be announced in due course of time, informs Vakharia.

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Mahendra Vakharia gets the DDP Trailblazer

Mahendra Vakharia, Managing Director, Pathfinders Holidays, has been declared the DDP Trailblazer at the West India Travel Awards 2017. A travel enthusiast, Vakharia did his hotel management from Mumbai and then went on to help thousands make their dreams a reality. He is also the founder member of the Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI) where he is the executive committee member and also the chairman of the western region of OTOAI. He is also the voice behind the mandate that requires all outbound agents to complete at least 25 hours of training a year to retain their active status. His first hand knowledge from personal experience is what helps him make magical itineraries for his customers and it is this self experience before selling a destination that makes him a Trailblazer. .

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OTOAI’s national election on Nov 27

Post its successful convention in Ras Al Khaimah, Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI) is gearing up for their national election on November 27, 2017. Making this annoucement, Guldeep Singh Sahni, President, OTOAI, said, “We are currently giving finishing touches to tasks and projects. We had previously undertaken to give the new committee a strong base in their transitory period to take our hard work even further during their tenure.” The elections will be conducted for 11 Executive Committee members who will further elect the new working committee.

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3rd OTOAI Convention in RAK begins with 180 delegates in attendance

The third Annual Convention of Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI) kicked off in Ras Al Khaimah with 180 delegates. The Convention was inaugurated by Shaji Thomas, Director-Destination Tourism Development, Ras Al Khaimah; Guldeep Singh Sahni, President, OTOAI; Riaz Munshi, Convention Chairman and Vice President, OTOAI; Mohamed Khater, Senior Tourism Development Manager, Government of Ras Al Khaimah; Gurdeep Gujral, Joint Secretary, OTOAI; SanJeet, India Representative, Ras Al Khaimah, and Mahendra Vakharia, Chairman-Western Chapter, OTOAI. Sahni said, “Amidst the challenges in outbound tourism, there are growth opportunities and we need to seize them by raising our game and gearing up for growth. We need to up our value proposition and rise above the competition.” Thomas informed that India is the fourth largest source market for Ras Al Khaimah with Germany being the largest followed by UK and Russia. “India is a very important market for us. Earlier Indians used to stay 1.9 nights in RAK but now they stay for 2.25 nights which means they have explored more things to do at the destination. We have become a popular destination for weddings. This year we have 17 Indian boutique weddings and we hope to increase this number steadily.”

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OTOAI’s GST seminar addresses members’ concerns

The Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI) addressed its members’ queries regarding the recently implemented GST regime. Chartered Accountant Ashok Batra made a presentation to explain the nitty-gritty of this new tax structure and also elaborated on how this would affect the members of the association in day-to-day business activities. The members attended the seminar with full enthusiasm and raised various queries, all of which were addressed during the event itself.

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A good step ahead: OTOAI

According to Guldeep Singh Sahni, President, OTOAI, the government went two steps back and now they have come one step ahead with the current GST rate. He revealed, “We were giving 4.5 per cent tax before January 22, 2017 and then we had CENVAT available. After January 22, we were under 9 per cent service tax. This step disturbed our summer bookings and there was a major loss of business to international OTAs. The new rates which will be implemented after the GST council’s meeting is 5% on supply of tour operators’ services. We need to clarify the meaning of this. If it is on the profit or add-on, then it’s very good. But if it is on the total amount, then we again stand expensive by 5 per cent than our international suppliers, because if we are taxing international hotels, then we are taxing them again. As input credit is not available it has direct impact on us.”

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OTOAI Convention in Ras Al Khaimah from Sep 12-14

The Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI) will be organising its 2017 Convention in Ras Al Khaimah in September. Guldeep Singh Sahni, President, OTOAI, and Haitham Mattar, CEO, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development, signed a MOU for the same at the Ras Al Khaimah Roadshow in Delhi. Sahni said, “We are going to have our convention most probably from September 12-14 in Ras Al Khaimah. The dates are tentative and will be finalised soon. We will be coming out with more details about the convention very soon. Our intention is to introduce new markets to the tour operators so that they have another destination in their kitty, which will add value to the already existing markets that they sell. If one looks at the numbers, there is a big gap between Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah, and we are looking at utilising that for the benefit of the tour operators so that they can extend their tours to this destination, with an added cost.”

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Malaysia offers multiple-entry e-visa to Indians on OTOAI’s request

Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Haji Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak has announced the launch of multiple entry e-visa valid for 15 days for Indian nationals. The announcement came a day after Guldeep Singh Sahni, President, Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI), met Dato’ Seri Mohd. Nazir Abdul Aziz, Minister of Tourism & Culture, Govt. of Malaysia, along with Raghuvinder Singh of D Pauls Travel and suggested that e-visa facility being offered to Indians should be made multiple entry. The suggestion led the Minister to take action and decision was taken within a day, and the Malaysian Prime Minister announced, “I would like more Indians to visit Malaysia and I have informed the Prime Minister that we have decided to allow no visa fee, online application approval within 48 hours and multiple entry to be accorded for Indian nationals.” The Malaysian Prime Minister met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his official visit to the country on April 1. Sahni said, “Thanks to Datuk Seri Mirza Mohd Taiyab, Director General Tourism Malaysia, Dato Daljit Singh, Indian Community Relations Advisor to the Minister of Tourism and Culture, Malaysia, Datuk Siew Ka Wei, Chairman Tourism Malaysia and Sulaiman Suip as the new Director, North & East India operations, for their contribution. We acknowledge Hon. Dato Seri’ Mohd Nazir Abdul Aziz and his team for taking action so quickly.”

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