Mr. Sitakant Acharya is an Entrepreneur with a keen business sense who, as the head of a prestigious IATA certification organization , has carved out a significant niche for himself in the travel sector. Sitakant Acharya has continually shown an unrelenting drive to quality that sets him apart, as well as a profound awareness of the complexity inside the travel industry.
Numerous pupils who worked under his direction attained their IATA certificates, launching their careers to new heights and earning international acclaim for their knowledge.
Sitakant Acharya’s own institution and travel business stand out as shining examples of excellence in the highly competitive travel sector. By fusing his love of learning with his dedication to providing exceptional travel experiences, continues to influence the future of the sector and motivate countless others to advance in their professions.
How did you get into the travel sector considering your different educational background?
My name is Sitakant Acharya, and I’ve been in the travel business for 25 years. I’m a post-graduate in mathematics, and I used to teach in a couple of colleges, but there weren’t many opportunities for math teachers at the time. As a result, I decided to pursue travel and tourism, which I did somewhat later in life. In the beginning, it was a trying time, and I worked with few companies like Crown Travels and a few others. I swiftly joined Lufthansa, United Airlines and Cheapo Air, and in 2008 l rose to the position of director for a corporation in California that was brought to Bangalore
I rose to the top levels of management in numerous travel companies, including Vayama(California-USA), Travix(Netherlands), Uniglobe-Skylink (Tanzania), Indian Eagle (Texas USA), and Voyzant Inc (Ontario-Canada). In 2016, while serving as Director of Operations for Voyage and Inc. in Canada, I had the idea to launch my own business, a travel academy and travel company that would offer services to travel pursuant and travelers as well. This was the beginning of the venture.
We help people from different parts of the world by assisting them with reservations and creating their package trips, and we do not only work within our own country but also across international borders. Examples of clients and processes from different parts of the world include Australia, Canada, the United States, and the Middle East.
Can you give a brief description of IATA certification and its significance to the aviation industry?
International Air Transport Association appears to be an organization for all airlines in the globe, but it is actually a membership organization that includes all service providers in the travel and tourism sector. In the past, it was known as the Air Traffic Association; but, following the Second World War, it changed its name to the International Air Transport Association. Naturally, at first, just the airlines joined this union, but as time went on and there was no internet and it was difficult for airlines to sell their services to customers directly, more and more travel agencies were invited to this union. Then, IATA extended an invitation to all other service providers in this field, like- Hotels, Cruise companies, Rail companies, and Taxi companies etc., who were also a part of the travel business to join IATA. IATA is not an organization that provides services to the airline business only, but also it does provide students with career opportunities in all areas of the travel and tourism industry. UNWTO, the United Nations World Tourism Organization, is the organization that abhors the travel and tourism sector globally. However, if you consider the commercial aspect of this sector, IATA, along with ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organization, and even WTO, abhors the actual commercial aspect of this sector.
Therefore, IATA is must requirement for anyone to get established in the Travel Industry as a professional or as a business entity. The probability of growth and sustenance in Travel and Tourism Industry without an IATA certification is pretty poor. To get IATA accredited, it is imperative for any Travel organization to have certain IATA certified professionals as its employees. Many of the Travel and Tourism degrees or certifications obtained from several institutes and universities might not be accepted internationally due to the lack of their quality parameters. In contrast, in shortest duration and with smallest investment, a globally recognized IATA certification can give you an international career in the Travel Industry.
What led you to establish an institution specialising in IATA certification in Odisha?
I entered the travel industry by fate, despite coming from a different background. I was a post-graduate mathematician working on my research when I joined Lufthansa Airlines. I soon realized that the knowledge I had gained from the tourism industry was insufficient for the market, which at that point was flooded with garbage. I would estimate that more than 70% of those employed in the travel industry were just plain garbage.
IATA certification was the best option for me to get an internationally recognized Travel and Tourism Certification. But the success rates of getting through in the IATA examinations has been a concern for years. There has been a quality assurance of its training and tough examination procedure. That’s why its certificates are valued the most in the industry. It was difficult for me to decide whether to enroll in the Program. Nevertheless, I persisted, and I was successful.
It took me only seven years to advance to the position of director in the field, and that too in an international origination out of USA. However, I didn’t stop there. I continued earning 8 degrees from IATA and gained significant recognition in the field. I also experienced good career growth. I worked in eight different countries and trained travel and tourism professionals from all the inhabited continents of the world.
I returned to Odisha and considered that Bhubaneswar might be one of the cities that produce the large number of tourism pursuant each year. Students travel to foreign locations in different fields without receiving proper opportunities and with poor pay structures. An IATA certification may be helpful for such pupils to materialize their dreams.
It was difficult for me to pick up speed at that period due to the pandemic, and people also suddenly lost interest in taking IATA courses and participating in travel and tourism. As a result, there were fewer student and we had severe negative impact on the travel trade including the IATA education.
How can you ensure that your institution is offering the IATA certificates by staying current with the newest development patterns and challenges in the aviation industry?
Prior to that, let us consider the other universities and colleges for the travel and tourism education. In the majority of these institutions, the courses are obsolete and do not reflect consumer demand. I participated in a number of talk show and discussions regarding the reasons behind the gap between what are taught in schools or institutes and what is needed in the marketplace. Due to the strictly followed systematic procedure, it takes years from creating the study material and getting approval from the universities to implementing the curriculum. By the time the course is taught, the industry gets updated with the requirements of new skills and technologies.
However, IATA is the commercial wing of the Travel Trade. That’s why they must stay up to date with trends in order to manage it effectively and efficiently. As a result, their course is revised in every quarter of the year, and the students receive the updated versions of study materials and training with all the practical experience.
There are 100’s of IATA courses for each of the numerous tracks, not just one or two. For example, there is a distinct course for customer service that does not follow the same format as travel accounting.
What are the key benefits of an IATA certification for someone pursuing a career in the aviation sector or any other firm?
The first requirement for any organization in this sector is IATA recognition, without which they cannot conduct business internationally. In order to obtain IATA recognition, an organisation must employ several IATA-certified professionals. This much information is more than enough for a travel professional to realize the role of an IATA certification in his/her life.
Is there challenging career in the IATA?
The only career path where you can land on a job abroad quickly and with little expense is this one. There are few sectors where you may have a scope of obtaining a position on the other side of the world in less than three months and for just 50,000 to 60,000 Rupees. The IATA is the only Program that offers this sort of opportunity.
Could you provide us some details about your newly formed company?
15 years before Vayama employed me as its fifteenth employee. Today it has thousands of employees across several nations. Indian Eagle was starting the venture in Texas when I joined as the Operations in-charge. So many world class travel companies were at the grass roots when I joined them, and I worked together with the other leaders to establish and expand them.
I could say that starting a business has always been a part of my career, and after 2.5 decades in this field, I have gained adequate confidence to found my own organization. Therefore, I could say that my new venture is an extension of all previous concepts. Other ventures were funded through different financial organizations, but my venture is entirely self-financed and I am taking care of this company as an owner, manager and as a worker as well.
This organization has completed around 8 years of its journey and name of my organization is TicketsNTrips Travel Private Limited , it’s not only related to academics or IATA certifications; it is also an agency firm and we try to challenge the prices of services offered by any agency in the trade, whether it’s an air ticket or a tour package. We have groomed the experts here through world class raining and practical exposure.
What future goals and objectives do you want to accomplish in the next years?
In the last ten years of my career, I’ve worked mostly as a trainer in Travel and Tourism operations and skills, and by now have trained more than 50k students worldwide. I can safely say that wherever you go in India, you may find one of my students working in the senior management of a major tourism organization there. I shared my knowledge among the students like my own children.
Therefore, this firm has enormous potential. It might not have achieved the expected height today; but I can claim that it has a broad scope, a broad vision, and a great mission to accomplish.
What effects did the COVID 19 Pandemic have on the aviation sector, and how have you modified your IATA certification program to take these developments into account?
The travel sector saw the greatest challenges, and many employees in this sector lost their employment. According to my opinion, in the past, people only travelled for luxury. But today everyone is bound to travel to meet with his /her family members or attend the important family occasions. Thanks to the global village concept, modern social structures, and the fact that many families are dispersed across many states and nations. The pandemic left us clueless for a substantial duration. For sure the travel industry cannot die, as long as the human civilization is there.
Few students were there to enroll in an IATA course during the pandemic. The institute was having trouble in finding staff members and students as well. IATA activities were suspended and no work was being done. After the pandemic was over, we took a break and reassured that the travel business couldn’t just collapse; without it, human civilization would perish. we have restarted working again, and things are currently going well.
What advice would you provide those considering pursuing IATA from your institution?
If you go to any institute for an IATA course, they will charge you for the certification as well as some training fees, and you might not find a good IATA trainer there. Across the globe, there are numerous institutes offering IATA certification courses without certified trainers. You may find institutes where the actual trainers have left long back and they are still continuing with their training program.
Many individuals are unaware of the necessity of IATA certification before getting a job in the industry. When they realize the significance of the course, they are burden with the job and family responsibilities. It becomes difficult to find time and energy for their personal developments through IATA certification. So the students should join us while continuing with their university courses in Travel and Tourism. It is going to complement their existing curriculum. IATA courses are not difficult to get through, and at my institution, we have a strong track record with a 100% success rates for several year in the recent past.
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