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Massive international support for Indian travel mart – record growth in tourism posted

International exhibitors and Government of India state tourist offices have given thumbs up to World Travel India, the…

International exhibitors and Government of India state tourist offices have given thumbs up to World Travel India, the international travel trade exhibition and conference scheduled for Mumbai in February `04. According to Richard Gayle, WTI project manager, it`s not surprising at a time when government statistics indicate that 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.

Gayle continued to say that the growing Indian middle class is estimated at more than 300m people. Many now travel overseas for their holidays to a wide range of destinations. The World Travel & Tourism Council rank India as one of the fastest growing tourism markets in the world with Indians taking in excess of 6.5 million trips abroad each year.

The positive dynamics of the Indian travel market have seeded substantial interest in WTI with support pledged from numerous international destinations in the Far East, Asia and Europe. Qatar Airways were one of the first Middle Eastern exhibitors to commit their support with a large presence. They are keen to exploit the immense potential in reciprocal tourism and to challenge India`s aviation policies. Senior government officials will be attending the WTI conference at which the Qatar Airways CEO, Ahmed Al Baker, will be putting their case forward.

Another Middle East exhibitor is the government of Dubai`s Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing. They are keen to develop the Indian market and have signed up for a substantial presence at the WTI show. The annual Dubai Shopping Festival and Dubai Summer Surprises have proven to be highly successful strategies in attracting tourism from India as well as the year round VFR traffic.

Gulf Air are looking to promote their services in the Indian travel market too. The launch of Gulf Traveller, their budget airline offering, in May will be something the airline will concentrate on between India, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.

Hong Kong too has traditionally enjoyed substantial growth in the number of visitors from India with an estimated 200,000 visitors in 2002, up 20% on the previous year. Indian visitors come to Hong Kong for multi fold attractions for families, honeymooners, shopping, gourmet, Green Hong Kong and Cultural Hong Kong, said Linda Tan of the HKTB.

Switzerland will be exhibiting at World Travel India as well as bringing a delegation to the show to take advantage of the opportunities to reach a large number of people in the industry to promote their country. Switzerland is a popular outbound choice for Indian tourists, and as Regi Wittwer, Switzerland Tourism`s marketing manager for India said great efforts are also in place to promote the country as a destination through key accounts. We maintain a very good relationship with all major tour operators selling Switzerland.

Indians travelling to Switzerland enjoy the splendid landscapes, it`s natural beauty, the greenery, the mountains where they can touch snow. Shopping in Switzerland`s cities is another beloved activity of Indian travellers.

Indian tourism on show

Apart from the burgeoning outbound sector, the success of the WTI will also relate to the country`s vast domestic travel market. India tourists have traditionally holidayed within the country where something like 234m domestic trips are taken every year. This is another reason why the state tourist offices such as Kerala and Goa will be highly visible at the show. They not just have tremendous appeal for the domestic market, but both destinations are especially popular for holiday makers from other countries as well.

Conference set to inform & challenge

A travel conference will run in parallel with the exhibition, staged in the same venue. Speakers will be drawn from both international and domestic sectors including the 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 for Deloitte Touche.

From the Indian market speakers will include Ashish Kumar Singh, Managing Director of the Maharashtra tourism board, Ashwini Kakkar, CEO & Managing Director, Thomas Cook India, Ashok Fenn, President & CEO of Interglobe Air Transport, Saroj Datta, Executive Director of Jet Airways and Cyrus Guzder, Chairman & Managing Director, Carlson Wagonlit India.

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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.

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