Vishwas Makhija, the newly elected President of Adventure Tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI) has said that focus will be given to train young professionals on safety and thereby convert a big chunk of the unorganised segment of adventure tourism into the organised industry.
Elected recently to the helm of affairs of the ATOAI, in an exclusive interaction with ETTravelWorld, Makhija said that he has already drawn up a priority list for him and his new leadership team to be undertaken in the next six months. When asked about his agenda and vision, he said, “Focus is important when you embark on a journey.”
In order to become more relevant as an association, it is important that the association has a sizable membership. Therefore, top on his list is to increase the membership and add value to the trade membership as an association. While doing it, he also has the vision to form more state chapters so that it creates active presence across the country. “We have to groom leaders who have the right track record and credibility at the local level and carry the values and ethos of ATOAI,” he added.
He wants to strengthen the engagement with states so that more and more states adopt the Adventure Tourism Safety Guidelines. “In order to reduce accidents, it is important states adopt these safety guidelines,” he explained. ATOAI has formulated a Safety Guidelines Framework for Adventure Tourism activities in the country which covers 31 activities. These guidelines have been adopted as the standard guidelines for adventure tourism in the country by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. State Tourism Boards of Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, have also adopted it as their standards, he said.
He also believes that it is important for the association to work closely with the states to make sure that training and upskilling happens at the local level. “It is important that people become part of the organised industry so that adventure activities happen in a safe environment,” he said. While it is a “work in progress” for the association for some time, Makhija wants to steer that mission properly.
Makhija also wants to groom a Woman Work Force within ATOAI considering the growing interest among women to participate in adventure travel activities.
In order to engage and activate the membership in the association, ATOAI will soon have a Mobile App in place, too, he said. Once the revamping of the website is completed, the leadership has plans to introduce the Mobile App. Commenting on the new opportunities awaiting, especially in adventure travel, in the post-Covid world, Makhija has said that the country has untapped potential to become the hub for Soft Active Outdoor Holidays of the world. “The whole Himalayas is not crowded,” he said. However, he said that India has to have the right marketing strategies in place to capture that market, both internationally and domestically.