Natas chief steps down after closing travel agency

The G.C. Nanda and Sons office in Cecil Street will remain open, as director Devinder Ohri plans to continue operations as a wholesale distributor of travel-related products. Mr Ohri stepped down as president of the National Association of Travel Age
The G.C. Nanda and Sons office in Cecil Street will remain open, as director Devinder Ohri plans to continue operations as a wholesale distributor of travel-related products. Mr Ohri stepped down as president of the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore as his company is no longer licensed as a travel agent as of May 30.PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS

Firm is changing strategy to be wholesale distributor of travel-related products instead

The president of the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (Natas), Mr Devinder Ohri, has stepped down, following the closure of his travel agency.

Mr Ohri is director of G.C. Nanda and Sons, which is no longer licensed by the Singapore Tourism Board as of May 30.

Thus, it is disqualified for Natas membership, and the association said it convened an urgent meeting of its executive committee convened on Monday which resulted in Mr Ohri vacating his position as president of Natas.

Natas deputy president Steven Ler will assume the role of acting president until a new one is appointed or elected at the next annual general meeting next May.

Mr Ohri told The Straits Times that the closure of his agency, which was incorporated here in 1960, was a "planned commercial decision".

"It's simply a change in strategic direction. We do not see why every company engaged in this trade should be doing the exact same thing," he said. The company plans to continue operations as a wholesale distributor of travel-related products.

As a corporate travel agency, it does not hold consumer deposits, and customers were informed ahead of its closure. His firm does not owe any unfulfilled trips, added Mr Ohri.

G. C. Nanda and Sons also operates in Hong Kong under the name Nanda Travel, but the two have been separate entities since 1978 when the family business sold off its travel agency in Singapore.

Natas said that it is business as usual for the travel association, which has 322 members, and the upcoming Natas travel fair in August will not be affected. "Natas Travel Fairs are run independently and are not impacted by the cessation of any travel agents," it said.

Mr Ohri, who was halfway through his second two-year term as president, said that his tenure was challenging but rewarding, having managed the breakaway of a group of travel agents in 2015 and the return of most of them for the Natas fair in February this year.

Ms Alicia Seah, director of marketing communications at Dynasty Travel, said that members' confidence in the association has not been affected. "Natas stakeholders are primarily travel agents ourselves, and we will elect another president," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2017, with the headline 'Natas chief steps down after closing travel agency'. Print Edition | Subscribe