New Indian alliance to streamline unorganised travel agency market

A team of experienced industry experts in India have come together to form the Tourism India Alliance (TIA) with the goal of bringing a substantial portion of Indian travel agents from the unorganised sector into the mainstream fold.

The inauguration of this non-profit body took place at an event in New Delhi last week. Despite industry approximations of 300,000 to 500,000 travel agents in the country, only a small fraction about 14,221 travel agents or tour operators are associated with travel trade groups or officially registered with the Ministry of Tourism – the newly formed body highlighted.

TIA founding member, Jagdeep Bhagat, at the launch event in New Delhi

One of TIA’s founding members, Jagdeep Bhagat, commented: “Some of the OTAs in India have about 2,70,000 travel agents registered on their platforms but the representation of travel agents in trade associations doesn’t reflect on such strong numbers. Moreover, many of these travel agents contribute substantially to the industry’s revenue, yet they lack the recognition, importance, and technical expertise required for further growth.”

TIA is expecting a membership base of 1,000 travel agents within the next six months. It has also partnered with a technology firm to establish an online platform which it expects will help the association to reach out to travel agents in over 300 cities across the country. Additionally, it also plans to conduct in-person training and educational programmes to enhance the skill sets of travel agents.

Subhash Goyal, chairman of STIC Travel Group said: “The tourism sector of India holds great potential, and this inclusion of previously ‘unrepresented’ travel agents will help to further stimulate the growth of the industry.”

TIA is presently brainstorming the structure of its membership fees.

“Obtaining a Goods and Services Tax number is the requirement for travel agencies to join TIA, with no stipulated minimum turnover. Furthermore, other stakeholders in the industry can also become members of our association,” shared Bhagat.

TIA also believes that with a large membership base, which it expects to attract across the country, will hold the platform in a good stead when it comes to advocacy for the tourism industry in the power corridors.

Bhagat pointed out: “We learnt during the pandemic era that advocacy is very important as we received limited support from the government. We realised that all the existing platforms couldn’t pass on the right message to the government that could have safeguarded the interest of our community.”

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