As the TAFI election date approaches, the anticipations are soaring high through the ranks with the teams all pepped up for the D-day tomorrow ie July 24. They will soon find out the new leadership they would be operating under, but with all these forecasts and excitement, the trade can say it’s not going to be a conventional TAFI election. A maverick travel veteran, Ajay Prakash, Nomad Travels has avoided the limelight for a good stretch and is back with a bang with his campaign for the coveted post of President. Prakash has earlier served as the President of TAFI back in 2010. Looking at the current turmoil the tourism industry is going through, he is all set for the mammoth task of gathering the government’s support for the tourism industry and more importantly for the members of the association. Let’s hear more from him on his vision to ‘Rejuvenate TAFI’.
The travel industry has been in deep distress lately and even the immediate future looks bleak, in your opinion how should associations such as TAFI come forward and work in favour of its members.
No individual has the answers because there is no one-size-fits-all. The first thing is to listen to our membership and identify the critical pain points before we posit any solutions. But what is evident is that the Association needs to marshal the facts and collect empirical data on the state of the industry if we are to make a credible and effective representation to the government. At the same time, TAFI needs to suggest alternative or additional revenue options and help our members to acquire new skills in order to diversify the product range. That travel will revive is indisputable; we just have to learn how to survive until the world starts to travel again!
What edge does your team have over your opposition that should convince members to vote for you?
Our tagline says it quite succinctly – We need to ‘Rejuvenate TAFI’ which has been in serious decline over the last few years. The one tangible benefit that some of our members have derived lately is through the Joint Bank Guarantee scheme, but that’s a legacy project – it was initiated years ago! We need some serious lateral thinking and innovative solutions and I do believe that we have a pan-India mix of excellent, articulate, intelligent and dedicated individuals who share the vision of once again making TAFI the premier association in the country. As an aside – There are 4 persons in this team who have made a choice, or rather – been persuaded, to come back after a break of 9 years. We’re not doing this for ourselves; we’re here because the membership was frustrated and craving a real change and we have the team that can deliver.
Can you shed some light on your top priorities if voted to power? Also, any touchpoints you’d like to share on the membership drive?
The top priority is to increase our strength by arresting the decline in numbers and rebuilding our membership base – that’s where any association derives its strength. Insurance or protection of agents’ monies in the event of airline collapse is another. A third is to ally with other associations in the travel & tourism industry, commission a study on the potential – and the current state – of the industry in order to approach the government with empirical data like other industries do. We need to focus on creating a powerful lobby whose voice can be heard all the way at the PMO. We also need to help our members acquire MoT and MSME registration so that they can become eligible for certain benefits. We need to educate them on how to be compliant with the new IT laws that will soon impact us all. Of course, the legacy issues like the deterioration of the Airline-IATA-Agent and the matter of inordinate delay in refunds etc need to be tackled too.
And, we also need to seriously look at how to make travel and tourism a more responsible activity – one that nurtures the planet not degrades it.
How would you describe your journey with TAFI so far?
It’s been rewarding. I’ve learned a lot, I’ve made a lot of friends (and some enemies too!). There have been frustrations and setbacks but I had put in over eight years of my time and energy into TAFI and I don’t regret a moment. This new journey is going to be even more challenging on account of the devastation caused by the pandemic, but we have a great team and I hope that with the vaccinations gaining momentum, the worst is probably behind us.
What’s your message for TAFI members?
It’s your association, own it. Carry your TAFI card with pride and together let’s make TAFI strong again. So – Don’t forget to cast your vote this Saturday and please vote for Team ‘Rejuvenate TAFI’. We promise you a more transparent, more receptive, more proactive and more credible Association.