With the financial security renewal of IATA-accredited agents scheduled for 30 June 2021, the IAAI director board recommends GoLite accreditation to travel agents in India after doing an extensive study on the IATA accreditation services.
Since the IFCO TOKIO General insurance company withdrew their insurance guarantees for travel agents, the IAAI director board studied various services – Standard (with and without Easy Pay) Go Lite and Global (multi-country) regarding its application, facilities and benefits. In the absence of an insurance guarantee, agents’ are forced to provide a bank guarantee or Joint Bank guarantee under travel associations, which are more expensive than the existing insurance guarantee system.
Through virtual meetings, the IAAI director board has considered the various aspects that constrain agents’ survival. It feels IATA Standard Accreditation is a ‘white elephant’ in the present economic turmoil and frustration due to the pandemic situation for most of travel agencies as they are SMEs. A travel agent has to annually spend around USD 783 for IATA Standard accreditation and using BSP link facilities in addition to the financial guarantee and other expenses.
Biji Eapen, President of IAAI, says, “In the present scenario, this expenditure may not be a viable business solution for most of agents in India and foreseeing that the present pandemic situation may continue much longer and delay in the redemption of international flights may take 2 years or more to reach the level of pre pandemic situation, IAAI National committee would like to suggest IATA Accredited Travel agents to convert their accreditations to GoLite accreditation. Even though it curtails credit facilities, it drastically reduces overall costs and empowers IATA Accredited Agencies to survive this unprecedented difficult situation.”
Eapen adds, “Since there is no capping, agents can tie up with the airlines and pay advance deposit through IATA ‘EasyPay valet’. Also, Agents can use Credit card facility with PCI DSS Compliance Certification through IATA approved providers. Benefits of GoLite accreditation is that agents are free from providing Financial Security Financial Statements and Annual Financial Review to IATA/BSP. When the present pandemic situation and economic turmoil is over, then agents may change their accreditation to Standard accreditation model according to the requirements of their business models. In a scenario wherein the regulatory order of DGCA on 5th March 2010 mandates remuneration or commission on tickets to travel agents are not yet implemented or enforced in our country, subsistence of IATA Accredited Travel Agents is a difficult proposition and agents have no alternate than taking appropriate measures for their own survival.”
Uncertainty continues and cannot rule out the possibility of a third wave. “A shift in the economic strategy is vital for the survival of majority of agents in India. Anticipating this situation may continue for quite long, GoLite accreditation shall be suitable for average Indian travel agents in the present scenario. It is helpful to the Indian market conditions for the time being unless and until agents opt for extensive network marketing,” Eapen explains.
He emphasises, “Unfortunately, either global councils of IATA agents or any national or international associations ever discussed or demanded for getting exemptions or support to the industry in any manner. Travel industry is in a critical stage, and many agents are struggling for survival and being the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis is complex and a difficult task for them. In this context, we at IAAI feel that the need of the hour is nothing but coordinated efforts and coordination of all stakeholders in the tourism and aviation industry for survival as well as for a better future.”