Senior representatives of Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), India’s largest and oldest travel trade association once again advocated the interests of the industry that has been devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic and is yet to recover from its impact.
TAAI’s President Jyoti Mayal has been one of the strongest advocates for the industry and always been at the forefront to highlight and bring to the notice of the highest echelons in the government about the interests and issues faced by the travel trade.
Representing TAAI & on behalf of the Mayal, Kulvinder Singh Kohli, Managing Committee Member, brought to the table the points which are the biggest hindrance to the growth of the Indian travel trade sector. He also highlighted issues which TAAI has been taking up with both State and Central levels for a long time now.
In his address during the session on stakeholders’ remarks, Kohli conveyed to the government the need of automating the registration process with the Ministry of Tourism. ‘‘An association with the highest number of IATA-approved members has had a hard time registering with MoT. A body like IATA legitimises the authenticity of a company, however, our registration processes are so cumbersome that it consumes a lot of time and energy. And, in some cases, agents do not register and are therefore unable to take benefits attached to it,’’ Kohli said.
On the point of providing adequate security to the travel trade from bankruptcy or default at the airline level, Kohli said that there is no security presently that the airlines have against their delayed payments. Citing the example of the pandemic, he added that the most hit always have been the travel agents. ‘‘If an arrangement can be made to secure the interest of the travel trade, then this will protect our fraternity as well as the passengers/customer. Travel trade is not a financial institution supporting aviation. For instance, when we pay in advance, be it in the form of security or for tickets then why can’t low-cost carriers should have a security bond with the Government at the time of applying for a licence based on per seat/per aircraft in the interest of travellers and trade,’’ asked Kohli in his address.
He also elaborated on the airlines and travel agents model which is widely followed as per the IATA Passenger Sales Agreement signed by Agents with IATA. He informed the stakeholders that over the years the commissions have dropped from 9 pc to 5 pc and then even to zero as of today. ‘‘None of the airlines is paying commission to the travel agents other than Air India, the national carrier, whom TAAI members have always supported. And, with times changing and therefore post Covid era we need the government’s intervention in facilitating a revised and reworked model of remuneration, which could initially propose 5 pc of the total airfare, including all ancillary services of the airline that are booked by the agent. This shall ensure more transparency, and an equitable and profitable business amongst the trade,’’ Kohli added.
Other important points related to mandatory insurance, setting up a joint task force with the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Ministry of Finance were also raised by Kohli. He also proposed a Single Window System where all States/UTs have a common presentation to share their offerings to travellers, be it domestic or international.