Rafael Gallego Nadal, president CEAV: Travel agents must be consultants who provide clients with added value
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Rafael Gallego Nadal, the president of the Spanish Confederation of Travel Agencies, in interview for Poslovni turizam is talking about the future of travel agencies and about 2nd Worldwide Summit of President of Travel Agencies Association. The event is co-organized by the Association of Croatian Travel Agencies (UHPA) and Spanish Confederation of Travel Agencies (CEAV) in partnership and collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Croatia, Croatian National Tourist Board, the Zagreb Tourist Board and other partners
2nd Worldwide Summit of Presidents of Travel Agencies Associations will be held in Zagreb in November. CEAV was the initiator of these summits and a host of the 1st summit last year. What was your goal when you first organised a meeting of head people of national travel agencies associations?
First of all, to demonstrate the importance of Travel Agencies worldwide, being able to raise our voice among authorities and providers. Moreover, to create an international forum for exchanging experiences in which to discuss key issues for Travel Agencies. Thanks to the initiative undertaken by CEAV, the 1st International Summit of Presidents showed the key role of travel agencies in tourism flows now and so on.
How came that you chose Croatia and Zagreb to be a host of the 2nd summit?
Due to the importance of tourism in Croatia. The country is one of the twenty most visited destinations in the world, because of its tourist attractions, as the bright blue Adriatic sea, mild climate, Roman and Medieval towns, friendly people, etc. Croatia was the perfect destination to celebrate the 2nd Summit. In addition to the undoubted attractions of the destination, also was decisive the strong support of Croatian National Tourist Board, Zagreb Tourist Board, Split-Dalmatia County Tourist Board and Tourist Association of Zagreb County; Thanks to the great initiative of the President of the Association of Croatian Travel Agencies UHPA, Mr. Boris Zgomba who from the beginning believed in this project.
How do you see the future of your business? What is and what will be a role of the travel agencies in the future?
The industry of travel agencies, is a sector in constant change and transformation. With new technologies travel agencies are facing major challenges. The influence of these new technologies and social networks, is changing the role of agents. We have to be consultants giving to our customer adding value base in our knowledge and experience. Travel Agencies should add value to their management through improvements in efficiency and service. In short, the Spanish tourist industry is facing a critical intermediary historic moment. A better understanding of context will enable the agencies responsible for adopting the best strategic decisions. Specialization and the adoption of the new tools offered by the technologies, can be key to survival in the new environment. All this combined with an economic and social environment marked by the economic crisis, are significantly influencing the evolution of the sector, where the permanent adaptation of professionals working it, is critical to their survival.
Existing EU rules on package travel holidays date back to 1990. Do you expect the revision of the Package travel directive soon? Is it going to be extended to business travel / meetings and events as well?
The text of the new Directive is very advanced and we expect to be approved soon with the changes that ECTAA has been proposing for many years to improve the regulation. Business Travel / meetings and events have always been excluded from the text, due to they are a complete different world.
Special VAT scheme for travel agencies is one of the latest issues for travel agencies in Croatia since we have entered the European Union. Applying this European directive has resulted with very unfavourable position of agencies’ business. What is the Spanish experience on this topic?
CEAV have been working for many years to improve various aspects of the application of VAT in our industry, with a very active working group that involves many companies and we maintain constant contact with the Administration, as VAT it is one of the issues that most affect our business.
Some EU members have sued European Commission because of special VAT scheme. Do you expect that EU directive will change in the future?
I expect so. Spain is one of those Members and we have been working hard with our Government to change our law without harm to the travel agents and we have really got it.
What are summer tourism season results in Spain compared to last year? How does this imply to travel agencies business?
Travel agencies in the country have been immersed in the bigger sales of the year, and the results are favorable, we all agree in saying that things are going better than last year. The turnover of travel agencies and tour operator again pointing upward. July ended with an increase in turnover of 1.3%. So far this year retailers and tour operators match the results of 2013.
Source: Poslovni turizam, media coverage of 2nd Worldwide Summit of Presidents of Travel Agencies Associations