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Indian tourism mart reflects record growth

World Travel India, the international travel trade exhibition and conference…

World Travel India, the international travel trade exhibition and conference scheduled for Mumbai in February `04, is set to present the dynamic Indian tourism market to the world. At a time when Indian tourism is one of the hottest topics in international travel trade, the organizers say it`s not surprising that we have generated so much interest.

According to recent government statistics from New Delhi, the country`s capital, tourism generated $2.5 Billion in foreign exchange earnings in the year to date ending September, up 20% on last year. Inbound tourism grew by around 15% with 1.864m visitors, all positive signs that the sleeping tiger of south west Asia is truly on course for a roaring tourism market.

Inbound numbers aside, the fact remains that the Indian middle class, estimated at 300m, are increasingly adventurous in their travel plans and making more and more trips to far away places. Not just the stalwart destinations like Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia, but further a field to North America and Europe.

Richard Gayle, project manager of WTI, says the World Travel & Tourism Council rank India as one of the fastest growing tourism markets in the world with Indians taking in excess of 4 million trips abroad each year. Add to that the 234 million domestic tourists, and it`s understandable why there is so much interest in our show.

The organizers say that the exhibition will feature a variety of international exhibitors including the tourism marketing boards from Hong Kong, Switzerland, Qatar and Dubai. Tour operators, hotels and airlines will also be represented from a variety of destinations including a large stand for Qatar Airways. The national tourism marketing boards from regions like Kerala and Goa will also be present, these are increasingly popular destinations for Westerners, especially those seeking winter sunshine once the cold weather starts, said Gayle.

Mr Gayle said that the exhibition includes a unique hosted buyer program which aims to put quality international and Indian buyers in touch with a quality international and Indian sellers through pre-arranged meetings. We are targeting buyers from key operators & marketing organizations globally and in India. This is the first time something like this has been arranged in India and distinguishes WTI from the other travel shows.

Conference set to inform & challenge

A travel trade conference will run in parallel with the exhibition, being staged within the same venue. Keynote speakers include Florida based President of the International Hotels & Restaurant Association, Eric Pfeffer. The CEO of Qatar Airways, Mr Akbar Al Baker and Mr Ian Graham, the former director of business consulting at Deloitte Touche.

The conference will address a variety of topical issues but the organizers agree that perhaps the hottest topic of all will be India`s policy on bilateral flying regulations. According to a statement made by Qatar Airway`s Mr Al Baker, India would reap enormous economic benefits if it opened its skies to competition and deregulated the country`s aviation industry. Gayle said this sentiment is echoed by other major airlines such as Emirates who whole heartedly support Open Skies policies, we are sure our conference will provide an excellent forum to debate this and other important issues confronting the Indian travel industry.

Given the dynamics of the Indian market, both the exhibition and the conference provide an excellent opportunity to access this exciting new market.

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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.