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Akshay Kumar

Akshay Kumar

Gaining popularity in the last couple of years, Ireland recently witnessed a double digit growth from the India market. In 2017, the destination welcomed 38,000 travellers from India.

Speaking about the growth in India market Siobhan McManamy, Director of Markets, Tourism Ireland said, “We witnessed 38,000 Indian visitors in 2017 and we think that will increase by 15-20 per cent in 2018, as we are waiting for the final numbers. We expect a similar double digit growth in 2019 as well. India is a very important market for us and is growing very fast.”

The British-Irish Visa Scheme has also played a key role in the increased visitor numbers to Ireland. Also, this scheme will be beneficial during the upcoming Cricket World Cup which is set to happen in UK.

McManamy added, “The UK Northern Ireland joint visa scheme has been great and we have seen a lot of growth. We are also seeing tour operators putting a lot of Ireland only itineraries now. One of the tour operators recently launched an 11 days Ireland only programme which is really great for us. The length of stay and spending has increased from the India market. Cricket is getting very popular in Ireland. We think that people who will attend the world cup will spend a few days in Ireland as well either before or after. It’s just a short flight so we look for an increase in numbers during the World Cup.”

The destination recently organised its sales mission in India to promote new attractions and offerings. One of the new offerings for the India market is the popular Guinness Storehouse tour. Speaking about the experience Paul Carty, Managing Director, Guinness Storehouse said, “We have a tour which takes about two hours and we take travellers around the building and the tour is very informative. We also teach the history and the heritage of the family. We also have restaurants in the building, where we also teach how to pair beer with food. We are Ireland’s number one tourist attraction with a footfall of 1.7 million visitors last year. We hope to welcome many more Indians for our tours.”

Also, in the recent years Ireland has gained popularity as a film shooting destination. “The Game of Thrones, Star wars was filmed in Ireland, we have had two Bollywood productions as well previously and we would love to have more. Film Ireland looks after the film shootings in Ireland and they provide some attractive incentives for film makers to shoot here. We are seeing a lot of interests from producers. We have iconic and historic locations to offer for any kind of Bollywood movies,” McManamy added.

Ireland is also now looking to promote festival tourism on a larger scale. “Halloween is a festival from Ireland, so we are planning and developing this in a big way. We will have the festival whole month around November and in various sites. Over the next five years we want to make it a really world renowned festival and want to attract travellers specifically to celebrate Halloween in Ireland. St. Patrick is our current big celebration and apart from Dublin this year we will have big celebrations in five other cities as well,” McManamy added. 

La Vallée Village, luxury shopping outlet in Paris, has witnessed a double digit growth from the India market in the last couple of years. It is looking to attract the high end travellers from the India market along with FITs, families, corporate and MICE travellers.

“Indian market is now ranking in top 20 amongst all nationalities at the Vallée Village. We have more than 175 nationalities coming into the Village. Since last 4-5 years, we have seen a double digit growth from the Indian market. In 2018, we had a growth of 40 per cent from the India. We know the potential is huge, regarding the population of India and their interest for shopping for the brands and this is the reason we keep investing in promoting in the India market. For us, the most important to understand in the India market was to reach the right audience. Since, we target the FITs, corporate and some of the MICE groups, we see people sending huge money. In our Village, people can save a lot of money while shopping the big brands,” Patrick Allais, Business Development Manager, La Vallée Village said.

The Village is aggressively looking at the MICE and offers discounts and other services. “In India, MICE activity is very dynamic. Every year we see Indian companies sending huge groups as big as 600 travellers visiting Paris. MICE groups need one or half day for shopping. This segment is important as they are high spending. In our villages except from the prices and experiences we offer, we provide extra services like VIP cards and more discounts. For the MICE group and corporate we have special offer which we call MICE offer, where approximately 45 brands give extra offers on the reduced prices. We can also make personalised signages and customised offers for MICE groups. We can arrange for meet and greet for groups. We work a lot with MICE from many countries. South East Asia, China and India are very strong MICE markets for us,” Allais said.

The Village has introduced more boutiques and also various F&B offerings and offers over 120 shopping boutiques and various vegetarian options for the India market. “Inside the Village, every month we have new boutiques coming. We have all the iconic brands with new brands as well. We have introduced one brand specifically for Skiing. In India skiing is getting more popular. We hope n the coming years we have an extension of the Village. We now have 120 boutiques in the Village. Since we sell experience, F&B becomes a very important aspect for us. In the Village, we have different options right from fast food to fine dine. We also have an ample of option for vegetarian travellers,” Allais added. 

Cruising as a segment has witnessed a significant growth from the India market in the last couple of years. Continuing the trend, MSC Cruises has witnessed a 40 per cent growth from India market. MSC has in the recent years sailed a couple of times to the Indian shores, which will further increase with the growing demand.

On the sidelines of MSC Bellissima’s christening ceremony, Angelo Capurro, Executive Commercial Director, MSC Cruises said, “The growth from emerging markets and especially India market is very important for us. We have seen a 40 per cent growth year to date compared to last year. This year is really good for us and with products like MSC Bellissima, we will further see growth. We will deploy more ships to the Far East that will pass through India waters. Also, considering the huge growth we are coming with luxury ships which will be small with very different itinerary. We are looking aggressively at the India market to further enhance guest experience. We do a lot in terms of f&b for the Indian travellers. When we have groups we design completely different f&b for them.”

In terms of trends, Indians are now looking for novel itineraries. MSC Cruises is popular for its Mediterranean sailings, now Indians are also booking on their North European sailings which are premium category products.

Kunal Sampat, General Manager-India, MSC Cruises said, “In 2018 as compared to 2017, we have seen a double digit growth from India market. We are very excited to see the growth in our North Europe sailings. Mediterranean is very popular as we are the only cruise liner having year round sailings in this region. North Europe is a premium product and witnessing significant growth in this region has been encouraging. India has always been a value seeking market and not a price sensitive market. More than 80 per cent of our business are Balcony and above category and Yacht Clubs. This shows that there is a demand for luxury from India market. This is a trend which will further grow.”

Also, the group has witnessed a significant rise in the bookings from the Tier II & III cities. MICE has been one of their core business apart from the family groups and celebrations segment from India.

Sampat said that West and Northern region has always witnessed an upper hand in terms of growth, but Gujarat, Punjab has now become major markets. He further added, “However East and South India markets are still slow and needs to pickup. Tier II cities has always been the strength in India. We are closely working with the B2B market and we get a lot of travellers from the smaller cities. The Tier II & III cities are the game changer.”

Speaking about the segments, he said, “We see a good growth in the MICE segment. Along with MICE, ad hoc family groups are growing. We regularly get such enquiries and conversions happening in this segment, like booking for a 25 cabins together. MICE business for MSC is around 30 to 35 per cent and this year we expect it to grow. We would prefer to cater to the weddings segment, but the challenge is that people want to do weddings on cruise but they like to do in destinations which are in flying time of 4-5 hours maximum. Our sailings are mainly in Europe and even visa has its own challenges. So, Far East as a destination attracts more weddings on cruise as compared to Europe.”

Mauritius, which currently attracts less than 100,000 travellers from India, is looking to reach the 120,000 milestone by 2020. The destination is promoting itself aggressively in the India market but still needs to develop the connectivity. Currently Air Mauritius is the only airline that flies to India.

Recently Anil Kumarsingh Gayan, Minister of Tourism, Mauritius visited India to attend SATTE 2019 and also meet with Indian counterparts. Speaking about the target and connectivity issues he said, “We are targeting to reach 120,000 by 2020, as of now we haven’t reached 100,000. We are interested in developing the air connectivity. We are in talk with Jet Airways and SpiceJet and are open to any other Indian airline which is looking to provide a direct connectivity to Mauritius. Currently, there is a codeshare between Air Mauritius and Air India, but the only airline flying is Air Mauritius. We believe that there is so much potential in this market that we need to develop it. The only way to develop this market is to have better connectivity. The Air services agreement between both the nations provide for more carriers from India to Mauritius. We are looking at a lot of cities in India to connect. One of the problems that the Indian companies have is their fleet does not allows them to fly to Mauritius. SpiceJet has the aircraft to fly from South of India.”

Today the Indian outbound is growing rapidly and every destination is looking for a slice of the pie. Minister Gayan said that the destinations should look at a South- South Cooperation in the tourism segment.

He further said, “The way tourism has developed, everybody from India is now looking at western destinations to travel. We want to have a South-South cooperation in the tourism segment. We already look at this cooperation in terms of trade but want to get it to tourism as well.”

The destination is also looking to introduce new tourism products. He said, “We are also working on bringing the sovereignty of Chagos Archipelago. Once we get this we can open a whole new world of tourism.  Also there is a lot of religious tourism happening in Mauritius. A lot of Indians are travelling for business and professional purposes, we want more tourism.”

Mauritius is also now looking to develop the cruise tourism segment. The destination is looking for smaller vessels which can carry 500-1000 passengers.

Minister Gayan said, “We already have cruise tourism plans, we are trying to identify a vessel which can carry anywhere around 500-1000 passengers and can do the Indian Ocean. We are trying to identify any such vessel. We want to develop this segment. This is a big segment with a lot of tourism potential. We are open for business and investments for tourism in Mauritius.

The nation is also looking out to revive film tourism from India. The destination is offering rebates as high as 40 per cent. Also the destination has attractive incentive schemes for big Indian weddings.

Speaking about the segments Gayan added, “We have a very attractive rebate scheme for film tourism and we are in touch with the production houses. We are looking to attract film tourism. In the past Bollywood has shot a lot of films, we want them once again. We are also now developing the technical assistance. We will also develop post production facilities. The government reimburses 40% of the cost incurred by production units in Mauritius which has become a major draw by now.”

Travelport has announced that it has renewed its long-standing, successful partnership with BCD Travel. With this new agreement, Travelport Digital will continue to collaborate on BCD Travel’s digital traveller engagement solution, TripSource, making it the preferred way to manage all aspects of business travel. TripSource allows travelers to shop and book air, hotel and car, and to evolve the next generation of self-service corporate travel experience.

Since 2013, Travelport has been a key digital partner for BCD Travel, one of the largest TMCs in the world. As a trusted technology partner, Travelport Digital has collaborated with BCD Travel to develop the award winning TripSource platform. The collaboration allowed BCD to vastly expand upon TripSource’s early iteration as an itinerary management app to produce a popular destination for shopping, booking, policy guidance and self-service trip management. TripSource now offers a cutting-edge user experience that drives the best purchasing decisions, allows users to book and manage travel and helps travelers to stay organised.

Will Pinnell, Vice President, Product Strategy, BCD Travel said, “We’re delighted to continue our relationship with Travelport, who share our mission to deliver a simple, digital, adaptive and global experience for travellers. Our longstanding alliance offers us immense value as we strive to lead the corporate travel industry in innovation that translates into tangible value for businesses and a superior experience for their travellers.”

Julie O’Sullivan, Head of Digital, Business Travel, Travelport Digital said, “As a key partner for the TripSource platform since its early stages, we’re thrilled to continue to support its future growth with our technology solutions. This renewal is yet another example of our commitment to enabling our partners to continue providing the very best digital experiences for today’s mobile-first global travellers.”

According to the Travelport 2018 Global Digital Traveller Survey of 16,000 travellers from 25 countries, mobile remains crucial, and travellers want a consolidated experience. They also want technology to continue to simplify and enhance the travel experience. TripSource uses real-time messaging capabilities to provide travel updates such as flight delays, gate changes, risk alerts and policy reminders as well as company specific information that helps travellers have a seamless, well-informed experience.

Known for the world famous Machu Picchu, Peru is now promoting itself as all-round destination in India market. As per the trends, earlier travellers used to combine multiple destinations during travel to South America. Now, travellers are looking to explore more offerings in Peru.

Speaking about the growth from India market, Luis M Cabello, Economic and Commercial Counselor of Embassy of Peru in India, said, “The commercial office of Peru in India started its activities in 2014. That year we didn’t have more than 4,000 Indian travellers to Peru. Now, we have close to 8,000 Indian travellers going to Peru. We are growing by close to 22 per cent every year in India. Peru has something for all type of travellers. Earlier, the trend was that part of the India market preferred to go to a lot of countries at one trip, most popular circuit being Brazil, Argentina and Peru; sometimes Brazil, Argentina, Chile or Ecuador. It was a combination, now that situation has changed and many Indians are looking at Peru as a solo destination. We have everything to offer.”

Peru is now looking to promote destinations beyond Machu Picchu. The destination has a lot of offer such as culture, wildlife, adventure, nightlife, etc.. “Every Indian traveller wants to visit Machu Picchu. Now we are promoting beyond Machu Picchu. Our capital Lima has a lot of offer where one can stay for three nights to enjoy our culture as well as nightlife. We also have adventure offerings in Lima. Also Amazonian rainforests are a big attraction in Peru. Also Indians like to visit the Nazca lines. We also have a lot of trekking tracks, nature and wildlife. This year our slogan is the ‘Richest country in the world’, as we have everything for everyone,” Cabello said.

In Asia, China, South Korea and Japan are already established markets for Peru. The destination sees a lot of potential in developing India as one of the major source markets. “China, South Korea, Japan are big markets for Peru from Asia. Indian travellers are now growing rapidly; India has a lot more potential. In the years to come India will be one of our top consumer and supplier. We are doing a lot of online promotions. We have a good number of followers on social media. We are going to do some G2B meetings. We prefer to go to companies that are really interested in our destination and we are ready to do a lot of partnership with tour operators,” he added.

In terms of segments, Peru is not only looking for niche travellers but also the mid-market segment. “Peru is a new experience for Indian travellers. Peru is not expensive; the cost of living is moderate. We cater to all segments of travellers budget travellers to high end. We have a lot of luxury offerings in Peru as well, like we have one of the oldest restaurants in the world in Peru, which is a experience in itself,” Cabello added.

Destination Canada, Canada's national tourism organisation to promote tourism, is all set to welcome close to 280,000 Indian travellers in 2018. In 2017, the destination had witnessed 18 per cent growth with 254,000 Indians travelling to Canada.

Speaking about the growth, Carl Vaz, CEO & Strategy Director, Destination Canada, India GSA said, “Canada is a long-haul destination for Indians, which is why we only look at the upmarket leisure segment and the luxury segment from India market. We are not in the competitive set of the mass destinations. We are more into the luxury and the high end markets. In 2017, we welcomed 254,000 Indians from January to December with a growth rate of 18 per cent. In 2018, we hope to close the year with around 280,000 which will again give us a double digit growth.”

Indian tourists spend on an average close to $1,500 per trip to Canada. The most common trip purpose for Indian travellers to Canada is to visit friends and family in 2017 and this segment was up an estimated 45 per cent over 2016.

Destination Canada has signed an MoU with the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) to conduct knowledge sessions at 10 destinations including; Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kochi, Kolkata, Trivandrum, Mumbai, Indore, Jaipur and New Delhi.

Throwing light on India strategy, Vaz said, “We have signed a MoU with TAAI in India to organise 10 city roadshow in India. Though this tie up, we intend on training or acclimatising around 700 TAAI members. In Mumbai alone, we had over 120 members. We have also tied up with UBM which organise SATTE exhibition to organise a four series webinars, we have already completed three of them, and these were very successful.”

According to report published on the Government of Canada website, Canada is set to expand its biometrics collection program and is now taking steps to prepare for December 31, 2018, when nationals from countries in Asia, Asia Pacific and the Americas will need to give their biometrics (fingerprints and a photo) when applying for a visitor visa, study or work permit, or for permanent residence. Even India will be included under this phase.

Speaking about the new biometric introduction Vaz, “We will be training and sensitising the travel trade in the end of this year and January.”

The destination is now looking to promote winter tourism in India and also promote the destination during the popular Indian festivals. “The passenger traffic to Canada goes up in May to July. As a strategy, we are now marketing the festival season including, Diwali, Durga Puja, and other Indian festivals. We have also started marketing the winter wonderland concept in India which is the Christmas, New Year as well as January and February. This covers the honeymoon segment and the snow skiing segment,” Vaz said.

The destination is also coming up with a MICE strategy for the India market. He said, “We have a subsidiary division for MICE and we are in the process of formulating a strategy for India and will be announced next year.”

Jeju Tourism Organisation in association with Korea Tourism Organisation organised roadshows in Mumbai and Delhi recently. Jeju Island is now looking to attract Indian travellers and is looking to increase visibility in India market.

Speaking about the Indian market Park, Hong-Bai, President, Jeju Tourism Organisation said, “Last year we welcomed 2400 Indian tourists in Jeju Island. We provide visa free access to174 countries and India is one amongst those countries. With the help of the travel trade and media and more promotions we are targeting to welcome 10000 Indian travellers to Jeju in the coming year.”

In 2010, Jeju Island was designated as a UNESCO Global Geopark for its unique volcanic topography and beautiful landscapes. The destination is promoting nature and landscape along with the MICE segment. Globally, Jeju Island receives a significant number of MICE travellers.

He further said, “MICE movement is nil from India so far. But we are one of the most attractive MICE destinations globally. We have excellent convention facilities and infrastructure for MICE segment. Jeju is a lava volcanic island and we have nature and heritage. We have a lot of attractions in our destination. We are more focused in promoting nature. We also have collaboration with Hong Kong Tourism, wherein travellers can visit Hong Kong and then combine Jeju Island along with the tour.”

This is the first time Jeju Island is promoting its offerings in India market. The destination is further looking to organise familiarisation trips and various activities to spread awareness.

Yoon Chang-ho, Chief Official, Tourism Policy Division, Tourism Marketing Team, Jeju Special Self-Governing Province said, “This is our beginning in India market. We are organising roadshows in Mumbai and Delhi. This being our first step, we will come back more often to educate travel trade in India. This year we have already invited celebrities such as Miss India to showcase the destination. We will also work with travel agencies, media to further promote the destination. We will plan fam trips to promote the destination. We are not aiming at any particular segment as of now. We will first bring up the volume and then look at weddings, MICE and other segments.”

In an effort to grow tourism from India, Western Australia is aggressively looking to establish new connectivity from India to Perth. The Western Australian Minister of Tourism has made two visits to India in the recent months and has met six Indian carriers to introduce routes between major cities in India and Perth.

Speaking about the development Paul Papalia, Minister of Tourism, Western Australia said, “Last time I was here two months ago, I met with senior executives of six airlines to talk about establishing new routes. We committed to coming back with providing them with business cases for travelling to Perth. We are delivering those, we also met with State Minister for Civil Aviation last time and we are meeting him again this time. We are putting business cases to the six airlines so that they understand the dynamics. Around 145,000 people are flying between India and Western Australia each year in both directions is a significant number. What we have said is we will work with whoever flies first. We are establishing relation with the Minister of Civil Aviation in India. As a state Government we will give all support to the airline and will offer money to market the route for a period. We are not locked down to any one route or airline and are open for any major city.”

In the last decade, Australia has become a popular destination amongst the Indian travellers. Still Western Australia is yet to make a major mark in this market; the destination has now started focusing aggressively to attract the Indian outbound.

Papalia said, “Earlier, we had the benefit of the mining boom; we had never seen tourism as a segment and were a bit myopic. Previously there was not much effort into diversifying. We as a new government elected in March last year, came by saying we would diversify the economy and invest in tourism and are responding to what was our failure in the past.”

Western Australia is now promoting itself as a destination with authentic experiences and they recently launched a new campaign to promote road trips.

Speaking about the USP of the destination Papalia added, “Western Australia is the authentic Australia. We are the actual experience that people would desire when they travel. India is a maturing market and they know what they want. They want to get out and experience things and get close to nature. We also launched a campaign to promote road trip. Western Australia has vast open expanse and beautiful access to pristine nature and sparse population. In the past that was often seen as negative, we turned that around and say that this is an opportunity for having road trips that will really be a bucket list experience.”

India is the number one market for Western Australia in terms of the students segment. The destination is looking to further grow this segment.

Papalia said, “Student market from India is the biggest we have, it’s slightly more than China. We have over nine per cent student market of the entire Australia. We think we can grow it to 25 per cent easily in the next couple of years. A big part of that is to get direct flights, which will make it easier to attract students. Then their families can visit and will boost our tourism, we are working collaboratively with all universities now to sell Western Australia as a study destination.”

Being a mining state, the destination also offers a lot of mine tourism products. Also with new infrastructure the state is eyeing to attract MICE travellers from India.

Speaking about the products Papalia said, “We are the most attractive MICE destination in the nation as we have the newest hotel product, we have a huge capacity and a lot of new hotels are coming up, forcing down the price overall. We have convention and conferencing centres and are very keen to partner to attract business travellers. In terms of Mining travel we have some magnificent mining options. We have the only operating Mint in Australia in Perth. One can do a tour of the Boddington Gold Mine which is one of the biggest gold mines in the world. We also have the Galvin’s port which is in the city. We have a lot of tourist mines which travellers can explore.”

Karma Group, an international chain of luxury hotels is focusing to expand further into the India market. The group currently owns and operates four properties in Goa and one in Rajasthan and Kerala each.

Speaking about their expansion plans John Spence, Founder of Karma Group said, “As Karma Group, we have grown to 27 resorts across Europe, Australia and Asia, but India still remains an extremely crucial market. With four properties in Goa and one each in Rajasthan and Kerala, we are re-focusing on India and have exciting expansion plans on the cards, which include setting up two more properties a year, for the next five years. We want to do more in Goa as we think it’s a tremendous space with enormous potential. We also want to explore both North and South India. Going beyond Kerala, we are nurturing expansion plans along the East coast like Pondicherry, Chennai and Coorg.”

The group witnesses healthy loadfactor across all its properties in India. This year due to the floods in Kerala, the occupancy has gone down in the particular state. Spence added, “Occupancy has been extremely good in the India properties this year. Depending on the time of the year, the average occupancy is 80 per cent. This year the rainfall was particularly heavy and for Kerala the occupancy did suffer. In general our occupancy is been well headed, we were extremely pleased with not the number of guest but also with the quality of the guest primarily the people who stay in our resorts were old club members. We are not a private members club than we are a vanilla hotel company; hence RevPar is not what we use too so much. We plan to open two more properties India owing to the positive response.”

Events are one of the forte for Karma Group, across all its properties the group organises various events and entertainment activities which draws a lot of travellers.

Speaking about the entertainment and events Spence said that events are an integral part of the business. He further said, “One of the key developments is the introduction of Karma FM, a 24 hour radio streaming facility available across resorts, on the app and the website. Curated and hosted by a main DJ of Karma, the content is well-received.  We are expanding the beach club in Bali with an intention to have our customers enjoy the best as we double the area. The investment will also include a uniquely fashioned swimming pool, sushi bar, DJ booth on the beach. For Karma Sanctum in London we have entered a joint venture with Iron Maiden. We are also expanding the roof top bar to incorporate a larger list of events.

The group is also crafting a speciality inhouse wine to further enhance the guest experience. Also Karma is entering the Glamping segment.

Speaking about the new products Spence added, “We will be unveiling the wine crafted by Karma soon. The wine is made in the Medock, well-known as a wine growing region of South France. We have also introduced an event named Glamping where we are incorporating tents, yacht at our resorts. We have recently signed a contract to take this on the road. We will be taking these too few of the festivals in Chella, United States and in England. The idea is to have a mobile Karma resort during the festivals. People will have the opportunity to stay in the glamping units and have an experience of Karma through the spa areas and more during the festivals. You can buy from an option of two tickets.”

 

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