IATO: A Timeline
A glance over IATO and it's activities over the years...
Issuance of Airport Entry Pass to the tour operators was streamlined after meetings with SC Tripathi, Commissioner, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt. of India. Tour operators were allowed to get upto 10 passes depending upon the turnover of the company.
Deferment of Service Tax
On 25th July, 1988, IATO invited Madan Lal Khurana, Union Minister of Tourism, to thank him for his support and initiating deferment of 5% Service Tax till 31st March, 2000.
IATO’s continued efforts to get service tax deferred or exempted which was to be relevied from March 31, 2000. Our efforts bore fruit and government exempted the foreign exchange earning from service tax vide its notification issued on 9 April, 1999 which provided that amount (foreign exchange) not repatriated from or sent outside India would be exempt from service tax.
Launch of IATO Website
On 5th June, 1999, for the benefit of its members, IATO launched its website ‘www.iato.net’ which was formally inaugurated by MP Bezbaruah, Secretary Tourism, Govt. of India. Each member was charged a nominal fee of Rs 600 towards one page information of their company. Initially, approximately 350 members had hosted their information and joined the stream. Through its endeavours, IATO has influenced key decisions at the central and state level, all of which have proved beneficial to tourism in the long run. Its initiatives have also mobilised and benefited members at all levels.
On 28th April, 2000, IATO and HAI signed Code of Practice on the lines of UFTAA and IH&RA. With the signing of this agreement, charging of Telegraphic Transfer (TT) rates by the hoteliers which was bone of contention and created a very unpleasant feeling, ended. While signing the Code of Practice, HAI agreed to stop charging TT rates and adopted charging Cash Rates.
Jammu & Kashmir and North East Chapters formed
On 21th September 2000, two new IATO Chapters, the Jammu & Kashmir Chapter and the North East Chapter were formed.
Formation of IATO State Chapters
On 21st September, 2000, to strengthen IATO’s base at the state level and for coordinating efforts at the national level, the IATO Chapters were formed in each state. This was done to ensure effective state level interaction with the local government and strengthen interaction between the members on inter-state basis. The state level chapters were formed under the chapter chairman, who would interact with the members of his state.
After a year long battle and after having made several representations at various levels, IATO was able to get the entry fees reduced effective October 1, 2001. The revised fees were US $5 or Rs 250 for heritage monuments and US $2 or Rs 100 for non-heritage monuments.
MDA scheme for the tourism industry for participation in overseas travel marts, sales cum study tour and printed material for publicity was revived by the Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India.
MDA Scheme for the tourism industry for participation in overseas travel marts, sales cum study tours and printed material for publicity was extended till 2007 with increase in turn over ceiling from 5 crore to 10 crore. Also the amount for reimbursement was increased.
Luxury Tax in Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Karnataka Reduced
Tamil Nadu Government recognised the needs of the Tourism Industry and reduced the Luxury Tax. Similarly Luxury Tax in Delhi was also reduced to 10% for the period 01.12.2002 to 31.03.2003. Later, Karnataka government announced reduction of Luxury Tax to 10% on the actual tariff.
Inland Air Travel Tax (IATT) was Abolished on IATO’s recommendations. IATT of 15% was abolished in the
MoU was signed between IATO and FHRAI on agreement on Code of Practice on 8th October, 2005. Subhash Goyal, President, IATO and MP Purushothaman signed the agreement in the presence of Rajeev Talwar, ADG, Tourism and Amitabh Kant, Joint Secretary, Tourism.
Rajasthan High Court suddenly banned the entry of tourist vehicles into the Ranthambore National park which caused lot of inconvenience to the members. IATO filed a writ petition in the high court of Jaipur along with ITDC and entry was allowed.
75 per cent Abatement of Service Tax
IATO had been struggling for years to get some relief for its members on the service tax issue since its introduction a decade ago. IATO’s constant efforts managed to obtain service tax exemption on the foreign exchange earned by tour operators twice earlier. However, in the years preceding 2006, IATO shifted its focus to get a higher abatement as 60 per cent was not justified. There had been a series of meetings in the last two years and IATO had collected data from many members, which was required by the Ministry of Finance. Finally, on August 23, 2007, a notification was issued by the Ministry of Finance giving 75 per cent abatement to operators on their tour packages. The copy of the circular was made available to all our members.
Reduction in Passenger Tax on Tourist Coaches by the Haryana Government
IATO had been emphasising to all state governments to reduce the steep passenger tax on tourist vehicles. The association approached the Chief Secretary of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan in this regard and the Haryana Government reduced passenger tax substantially by 40 per cent on tourist coaches.
IATO newsletter came with the first issue in the month of January 2008. It is being published regularly and circulated in all the government ministries, India Tourism Offices, Airlines, Embassies, State tourism departments and tourism professionals.
Round Table Meet & Launch of New Logo
IATO organized a Round Table Meet with the officials of the Ministry of Tourism. The objective was to discuss various issues deterrent for sustaining the tourism growth and look for solutions. S Banerjee, Secretary, Tourism, Govt. of India, Sanjay Kothari, ADG, Tourism, Govt. of India and Leena Nandan, Joint Secretary, Tourism, Govt. of India, were present. On this ocassion new IATO logo was launched. The map of India in the logo symbolizes the pan-India presence of IATO and the crescent shaped graphic symbolizes the dynamic nature of the association.
Global Campaign to select the New Seven Wonders of the World
India’s pride, the Taj Mahal, was accorded its due recognition and secured the highest number of votes in the new list of the seven Wonders of the World. The result was declared on July 7, 2007 in Lisbon, Portugal. In this regard, IATO had constantly appealed to all its members through circulars, during luncheon meetings and also placed posters at all important places like streets, hotels, and in the offices of its members, requesting all to vote for the Taj Mahal. The efforts of IATO were highly appreciated by the Minister for Tourism.
Transport Tax on Tourist Vehicles in Rajasthan
Transport Tax on tourist vehicles in Rajasthan for IATO members who are registered in Rajasthan was reduced by 50%.
Monument Entry fee reduced for the BIMSTEC and SAARC countries
IATO was pleading with the Ministry of Culture and ASI to reduce the monument entry fee for the foreigners as it was very high and making our packages very costly. ASI reduced the entry fee for the nationals of BIMSTEC and SAARC countries to Rs. 5 for the category A and category B monuments respectively.
Launch of Year Long Training programmes
IATO initiated a unique programme to supplement, reinvest and boost the soft skills of the employees of its members. Certain programmes were also introduced specially to cater to senior managers and agency needs. These were aimed to update and impart skills accoding to the current market trends in the changing market scenario.
For maintenance of public amenities at ASI protected monuments, an MoU was signed between IATO and ASI on 15 December, 2009. A committee called Monuments Infrastructure Development Committee was formed for this purpose by IATO. Under the agreement, IATO will take over maintenance of public amenities at 5 monuments in Delhi and Agra.
Reduction in Service Tax
Service tax was reduced from 12% to 10% w.e.f. 24th February, 2009.
Reduction in Luxury Tax
With our continued efforts, Karnataka Government reduced the luxury tax by 2%. Similarly Delhi Government also reduced the luxury tax from 12.5% to 10%.
New Office for IATO
IATO bought new office space at 310, Padma Tower II, 22 Rajendra Place, New Delhi- 110008, in the same building where the existing office was located. New Office Space at 310 Padma Tower II inaugurated with traditional pooja In tune with the IATO’s new vision, a new logo was launched on 2nd June, 2008. The new Logo symbolizes the transformation within the organization and IATO’s vision to meet the demand of tourists with all sincerity.
With our continued efforts, Visa on Arrival for the nationals of Finland, Japan, Luxemburg, New Zealand and Singapore was introduced. Which was a big achievement for IATO. It has now been extended to tourists from Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar also from January 2011.
Guidelines for Tourist Visa streamlined
Due to security reasons, some changes were made in Visa regulations which were detrimental to tourism industry. With IATO’s intervention, Visa regulations were streamlined and tourists were allowed re-entry to India withen 60 days after visiting the neighbouring countries vide circular no. 379 dated 26 April. 2010 issued by Ministry of Home Affaires (Foreigners Division).
National Tourism Awards
IATO took up with the Ministry to increase the no. of categories for the benefit of our members and categories were increased from 4 to 6 with 3 awards in each category.
Seamless Travel along Golden Triangle
Our members were facing lots of problems on Golden Triangle, i.e. Delhi-Agra-Jaipur-Delhi due to obstacles of paying Road Tax and Toll Tax etc. On IATO’s request, all the three states agreed that the tax can be paid in Delhi w.e.f 17 July. 2010 to facilitate seamless travel.
Introduction of Specially designed common entry tickets for ASI Heritage Monuments
After long persuasion, ASI introduced specially designed common entry tickets for world heritage and other centrally protected monuments. These tickets can be purchased in advance and are available for sale at the office of all the 24 circles of the ASI, Museums and the monuments.
IATO played important role in augmenting government efforts in developing infrastructure, airport facilitation and has agreed to provide information counter assistance for servicing tourist enquiries including rendering assistance under capacity building programme and ‘Earn While You Learn’ projects.
A notification was issued by the Delhi Government making it compulsory for the operators, travel agents, excursion agents to register with the Delhi Govt. and get licence. However, there were some clauses in the application form and the guidelines which did not relate to our members and were detrimental. With IATO’s intervention, the necessary amendments have been made in the Motor Vehicle Act and also the application form.
IATO shifts to a new location
Hawan/Puja was held on 23 April, 2011 and the office was shifted to the new premises on 27th April, 2011. Transfer of flat no. 404 in Padma Tower–II was a very old pending issue which was resolved and the property was transferred in IATO’s name.
IATO Office Gets A New Look
IATO’s old office at Padma Tower-II, Flat No. 404 was under renovation for some time. This has now been completed. “Hawan” was organized on August 14. The Conference Room, Board Room and state of art equipments for A/V presentation, training programme and small library with reference books are the main feature in the renovated office. Subhash Goyal led the IATO team on this auspicious occasion and participated in the Hawan.