Indian Association of Tour Operators raises several issues with Government of India
President Rajiv Mehra writes to Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Civil Aviation and DGCA
Rajiv Mehra, President, Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), has requested the government to remove hurdles which are creating hindrances in revival of inbound tourism to the country and to help in getting refund of Travel Agents from Jet Airways.
In his communication to the Ministry of Tourism, Mehra has requested the Tourism Minister to impress upon the government to withdraw requirement of submission of self-declaration form on the online Air Suvidha Portal for foreign nationals. Presently, all foreign tourists who intend to visit India need to submit a self-declaration form and attach documents which foreign tourists, especially elderly travellers, find very difficult. Due to this reason, many foreign tourists have been, as per reports, offloaded, which is giving negative publicity to the country and now, many tourists are skipping travelling to India. While India is looking to bring more foreign tourists and on other hand, as per IATO, Air Suvidha is making it difficult for tourists to consider India as a destination. Now under the present situation, many countries have abolished all hurdles to attract more tourists. IATO has, therefore, requested that requirement of submission of self-declaration form on the online Air Suvidha Portal be removed to encourage foreign travellers to visit India for the revival of inbound tourism.
Apart from this, in a letter to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Mehra has said that foreign travellers are facing issues while travelling in India due to compulsory web check-in forced by all domestic airlines. In his letter to the MoCA, he mentioned that the basic purpose of web check-in is to avoid rush at the baggage counters but the very purpose of the same is defeated as all travellers have to stand in queue for handing over check-in baggage as there are no separate queues or counters for those who have already done the web check-in. Also airlines are charging Rs 200 per traveller for not having done web check-in. IATO has requested that directives be issued to all the domestic airlines not to make it compulsory for travellers to carry out web check-in and facility of issuing boarding pass be available from the airline check-in counters at the airport for those who have not done web check-ins. IAtO said that it is the responsibility of the airlines to issue boarding pass and baggage tags to air travellers, and hence, there should not be any additional charge of Rs 200 for the boarding pass.
In an another letter, IATO has also raised an issue of pending refunds of the travel agents from Jet Airways for over two years. While welcoming the resumption of Jet Airways flight operations in the next quarter of this year (July-September 2022) for which DGCA has granted Jet Airways its air operator's certificate (AOC), officially paving the way for the grounded airline to take to the skies once again, Mehra has written to the DGCA that large dues are pending in Jet Airways accounts for over two years towards the amount paid by the ticketing agents which Jet Airways has not refunded in spite of repeated reminders by the agents. In addition to this, advance deposits towards group bookings made by the travel agents for the ticketing of groups are also with Jet Airways. IATO has requested that:
- Operation of Jet Airways flights be kept in abeyance till the time refunds are made to the travel agents whose funds are lying with Jet Airways
- It be made compulsory for all the airlines operating in India to give bank guarantee/financial security to be kept with DGCA or an appropriate statutory body to protect the interest of travel agents/tour operators/airline travellers in case an airline goes bankrupt or ceases to operate like in the cases of Jet Airways or Kingfisher in the past.
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