[HOT인터뷰] KATA Chairman Oh Chang-hee|“We will expand our member companies to raise representativeness and voice”

[HOT인터뷰] KATA Chairman Oh Chang-hee|“We will expand our member companies to raise representativeness and voice”

Re-election challenge official… Promoting a new leap forward in the travel industry
Strengthen the expansion of members such as local, small and medium-sized companies and BSP travel agencies
Plenty of pending issues to resume travel, such as PCR center

Oh Chang-hee, chairman of the Korea Travel Association (KATA), whose three-year term ends at the end of this year, officially announced his intention to challenge for a second term. He has a strong will to get out of the aftermath of COVID-19 and rebuild the travel industry ecosystem and take a bigger leap forward. KATA plans to hold its regular general meeting on November 24 and elect the next president. Prior to that, I met Chairman Oh Chang-hee and heard the idea.

KATA Chairman Oh Chang-hee emphasized that we will do our best to expand and grow into a representative association recognized by member companies. / Reporter Kim Seon-joo

-I’m curious about the background of the re-election challenge.

He took office in January 2019, amid China’s THAAD retaliation, and after reorganizing the system, the boycott of Japan began in earnest in July. I wanted to get rid of it, but since December, an unprecedented large-scale bad news called Corona 19 started, and more than a year and a half has passed. Meanwhile, the travel industry has been hit hard enough to worry about survival. The COVID-19 crisis still continues, and I think that resigning is not fulfilling your duty. There are many urgent issues that need to be resolved for the smooth resumption of international travel in the future as well as businesses that need to be continued for the survival of the travel industry. In order to maintain business continuity and actively promote new projects to re-take the travel industry, he decided to challenge for a second term.

-You have carried out various activities such as proposals and demonstrations against the government…

In the process, I felt the difficulties and urgency of the members. KATA also felt it needed to make a drastic change. In particular, it is urgent to strengthen representation. Currently, there are about 1,000 member companies, which is less than one-tenth of the total number of travel agencies. There is a great need to expand further. This time, we joined forces with small and medium-sized travel agencies across the country regardless of whether or not they were a member of KATA during a demonstration against the government to overcome the COVID-19 crisis. In addition, we looked at the possibility of expanding the scale and status of KATA as a representative association of the travel industry in name and reality. So far, we have taken a passive approach to attracting local member companies, but based on the solidarity and bond formed through this joint activity, we plan to actively expand member companies in the future. Ultimately, it plans to increase the number of member companies to 5,000. Only then will the representation and external negotiating power increase.

– The Fair Trade Commission made a recommendation for correction to IATA.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which allows airlines to unilaterally determine the commission paid to travel agencies, violates the Terms and Conditions Act, and has taken corrective action. I am proud that it is the result of continuing the work that the former Chairman Moo-Seung Yang started and continuing to pursue. As a travel agency, it is a stepping stone to receive commissions again as in the past. The Fair Trade Commission is expected to finish consultations with IATA within 60 days of making a decision, so it is necessary to monitor the progress of IATA, including whether or not to make a correction. In addition, I believe that airlines and airlines should consult with each other and come up with a reasonable agreement to strengthen mutual development and cooperative relationships. For this, it is necessary to expand the participation of BSP travel agencies in KATA. Currently, there are about 450 BSP travel agencies, and only about half of them are participating as KATA members. I hope that the rest will come to KATA and work together to respond jointly.

-There is also a lot of confusion in the process of resuming international travel…

There are many problems to be solved in order to resume travel smoothly. The same is true of PCR test procedures and cost issues. Currently, there is no hospital that accepts PCR test reservations in groups. In order to receive foreign tourists again, it is highly necessary to establish a PCR test center exclusively for tourists. There is a need for a system that allows foreign visitors to be inspected comfortably while resolving the problem of overlapping movement lines between Koreans and foreigners. Costs are also a burden, so they need to be improved. In the case of local governments, instead of providing incentives to attract tourists, it may be a solution to support PCR test costs. We will begin a full-scale review and suggest alternatives.

– It is also urgent to strengthen the competitiveness of small and medium-sized travel agencies.

We will do our best to change the perception of small and medium-sized travel agencies that KATA is only active in the interests of large companies. It is in this context that we are promoting a platform use support project for small and medium-sized travel agencies. As the platform’s influence grows, there are cases where travel agencies are treated unfairly. At the same time, I want to improve competitiveness by supporting the use of platforms by small and medium-sized travel agencies. In the digital transformation education for travel agency employees, digital-related course registrations were particularly high. This is evidence that small and medium-sized travel agencies are thirsty for digital transformation and response. In the future, we will lay a solid foundation for small and medium-sized travel agencies to innovate and develop through KATA. We will do our best to expand and grow into a representative association recognized by member companies.

By Kim Seon-joo, staff reporter [email protected]

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