India’s tourism Industry facing leadership crisis: Rajeev Kohli

Making its voice heard and representing its concerns to policymakers and authorities is one of the big challenges, India’s Travel & Tourism Industry is facing today. India’s long-drawn election process to elect a new parliament is over, and we have a new government, but the role of associations of the country’s travel and tourism industry during the General Elections 2019 has been disappointing at a time when the industry is facing some serious challenges. According to Rajeev Kohli, Joint Managing Director, Creative Travel, India’s travel trade associations have let down their membership and the industry as a whole. “During the 2019 elections, I did not hear any association approaching any political party to include the industry’s concerns and demands in their election manifestos,” said Kohli, who had served the Indian Tour Operators Association of India (IATO) in many capacities including its vice president and senior vice president.

“The General Elections 2019 was not an unexpected event, it was well-known that the elections would be held in April-May month of this year, but no effort was made to connect with political parties to apprise them of our issues and problem and seek their commitments to address them,” rued Kohli. He stated that the industry is currently facing some sort of leadership crisis, and its current leaders have failed to provide desired leadership to the industry.

Many prominent industry players, who can provide constructive leadership to the industry, articulate its concerns and make the industry’s voice heard have been sidelined, said Kohli. Many prominent industry players, who are at the helms of India’s leading travel business organizations, don’t want to get involved in the politics of associations because of the narrow-mindedness of people in associations.
An important aspect of leadership is thought leaders, whose role is well recognized in every walk of our life. Thought leaders are well-informed, experienced and successful people in their respective domains. They are visionaries and inspire people with their innovative ideas and success stories. Young entrepreneurs can learn a lot from them.

“Thought leaders have a very important role to play in every sector. Every major industry in the world has thought leaders, but in India’s travel & tourism, such leaders are few, and even these few have been sidelined and underutilized,” rues Kohli. He added that some thought leaders were parts of associations, but have been shown the doors. Thought leaders can well be used to inspire and educate members of the industry, but our associations are unable to use them and the industry as a whole is deprived of their knowledge and insights gained through years of hard work and experiences.

Kohli, who is currently more focused on his own business and not actively involved in association activities, said most of the office bearers of our associations are aloof to the concerns of the industry, and always want to be in the limelight rather than keeping the interest of the industry at the centre of their activities. This should change, he added.

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