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News
Karishma Sen

Karishma Sen

The MoT has upped its promotional and marketing efforts and is participating in major trade fairs and travel marts overseas. The recently concluded Arabian Travel Market (ATM), 2013 witnessed the presence of a massive delegation from India, the biggest participation at ATM so far.

Speaking with T3 on the sidelines of the event in Dubai, Girish Shankar, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, stated, “We are determined to place India on the top of the list. We want people to view India as one of the top leisure and niche destination in Asia. With more than 65 participants from India under the ‘Incredible India’ banner, we are showcasing the diverse tourism potential of the country.” The delegation at ATM included State Tourism Boards of Kerala, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand along with Air India, Tea Board of India apart from travel trade. He further added that one of the highlights of the India pavilion at ATM was the depiction of India as a multi-faceted tourist destination. “India is a kaleidoscope of diversity and culture and the country appeals to everyone; from bagpackers to high-end tourists.”

According to him, India has been witnessing a surge in arrivals from the Gulf and the Middle Eastern region over the last two to three years. The year 2011 registered an overall growth of around 14 per cent over the previous year. Countries such as UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen and Turkey are emerging as major tourism generating markets in India from this region.

Vikas Rustagi, Regional Director (West Asia and Africa), India Tourism, commented, “India Tourism has set a target of increasing the share of India in world tourist arrivals from the current 0.5 per cent to 1 per cent by the year 2017. We have prepared a multi-pronged strategy to achieve this target,” he added.
Shankar also emphasised on promoting India as a 365 day destination.  “In the summer months of May-July, Ladakh in Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh are popular tourist jaunts, while during winters in the December-Feburary period beach destinations like Goa and Cochin receive a massive footfall. The period between October and April is especially important for luxury travel since this is when all Indian luxury trains are in operation,” Shankar said.

According to him, medical tourism is a segment that is picking up at a fast pace in India. “As more and more people from the region travel to India for medical treatment, India is gradually becoming an established name in healthcare tourism. India is poised to become a hub for medical tourism because of several factors such as world class hospitals offering high end state of the art equipments; highly skilled physicians and surgeons, low cost treatment and also natural and traditional healthcare therapies including Ayurveda and Yoga combined with allopathic treatment,” Shankar opined.

Forty per cent of 6.65 million foreign visitors to India last year were women who did not report any major problems during their visit, informed Shankar, which clearly indicates that India remains a safe place to travel.

The MoT has upped its promotional and marketing efforts and is participating in major trade fairs and travel marts overseas. The recently concluded Arabian Travel Market (ATM), 2013 witnessed the presence of a massive delegation from India, the biggest participation at ATM so far.

Speaking with T3 on the sidelines of the event in Dubai, Girish Shankar, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, stated, “We are determined to place India on the top of the list. We want people to view India as one of the top leisure and niche destination in Asia. With more than 65 participants from India under the ‘Incredible India’ banner, we are showcasing the diverse tourism potential of the country.” The delegation at ATM included State Tourism Boards of Kerala, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand along with Air India, Tea Board of India apart from travel trade. He further added that one of the highlights of the India pavilion at ATM was the depiction of India as a multi-faceted tourist destination. “India is a kaleidoscope of diversity and culture and the country appeals to everyone; from bagpackers to high-end tourists.”

According to him, India has been witnessing a surge in arrivals from the Gulf and the Middle Eastern region over the last two to three years. The year 2011 registered an overall growth of around 14 per cent over the previous year. Countries such as UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen and Turkey are emerging as major tourism generating markets in India from this region.

Vikas Rustagi, Regional Director (West Asia and Africa), India Tourism, commented, “India Tourism has set a target of increasing the share of India in world tourist arrivals from the current 0.5 per cent to 1 per cent by the year 2017. We have prepared a multi-pronged strategy to achieve this target,” he added.
Shankar also emphasised on promoting India as a 365 day destination.  “In the summer months of May-July, Ladakh in Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh are popular tourist jaunts, while during winters in the December-Feburary period beach destinations like Goa and Cochin receive a massive footfall. The period between October and April is especially important for luxury travel since this is when all Indian luxury trains are in operation,” Shankar said.

According to him, medical tourism is a segment that is picking up at a fast pace in India. “As more and more people from the region travel to India for medical treatment, India is gradually becoming an established name in healthcare tourism. India is poised to become a hub for medical tourism because of several factors such as world class hospitals offering high end state of the art equipments; highly skilled physicians and surgeons, low cost treatment and also natural and traditional healthcare therapies including Ayurveda and Yoga combined with allopathic treatment,” Shankar opined.

Forty per cent of 6.65 million foreign visitors to India last year were women who did not report any major problems during their visit, informed Shankar, which clearly indicates that India remains a safe place to travel.

India holds tremendous growth opportunities for business and leisure travel for Singapore Airlines, stated G. M. Toh, General Manager - India, SIA. “Indian visitors comprise of different segments of the market such as corporate traffic, visit friends and relatives (VFR), migrants, leisure, incentives, MICE, students and special interest groups. Moreover, India offers a rich heritage and diverse cultures that also entices the inbound traveller. Hence, Singapore Airlines and our subsidiaries are looking at increasing flights to Delhi, Hyderabad and Chennai once Singapore government works out allotment of India seats.”

SIA currently operates in six cities including Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai. The carrier already increased its services to Mumbai to 21 times per week, in Hyderabad to nine times a week and Ahmedabad services to three times weekly due to surge in demand. SIA, along with its full-service regional arm SilkAir, offers 98 flights weekly from 11 cities in India. “SIA, SilkAir and low-cost carrier affiliate Tiger Airways are utilising over 70 per cent of capacity between India and Singapore. The three carriers currently provide around 29,000 one-way weekly seats to India. Last month, India has revised its bilateral air services agreement (ASA) with Singapore which allowed increase of 2,160 seats per week, about 10 per cent, for the Singapore-based carriers,” Toh said adding that SIA won't be able to increase any flights to Mumbai, which is second biggest market for the carrier, as it is already utilising maximum permitted seats from the city.

Speaking on Changi Airport attracting Indian traffic, Toh said, “The Changi Airport proves to be a convenient hub and our networks offer seamless connectivity to major destinations of the world. Changi Airport has also upped its promotional activities in emerging destinations namely India and has positioned itself as a tourist attraction.”

In keeping up with their endeavour to provide the best inflight services, SIA recently announced a product upgrade on the daily morning flights between Mumbai and Singapore. “This is a part of a larger global investment of US$95 million to refit 10 Boeing 777-200ER aircraft with new long-haul cabin products.  We are also making a US$20 million investment to develop new SilverKris Lounges over the next five years. This is in addition to recent investments in lounges including the new SilverKris Lounge at Delhi International Airport.

At present there are 216 weekly flights between India and Singapore.

Since the time Safari Trails has entered the India market, it has received tremendous response, stated Mona Thethy, Managing Director, Safari Trails. Safari Trails will now aggressively promote MICE traffic to Kenya. “We are the first to realise that incentives carry their sponsor’s names and it is therefore a matter of enormous importance when the reputation of that name is entrusted to another organisation. Perhaps it is this awareness of that fact that has enabled us to successfully operate the many successful incentives that we have operated. Our knowledge and experience in East Africa has enabled us to, often, lead the way in offering imaginative ideas and extraordinary activities for the incentive market,” said Thethy, adding that they realise the need for a flawless transport service, and a meticulously sensitive understanding to the importance of attention to detail. Flowers of company colors in bedrooms, theme evenings, tribal dancers, gourmet meals, bush banquets, ice sculptures, hospitality desks, memorable giveaways are just normal plans.

Commenting on the challenges in organising big groups Thethy said, “Many groups are larger than the accommodation available in game lodges. This requires a skillful arrangement of itinerary so that the whole group has the same experiences yet converge at the right places and at the right times to fulfill group and corporate activities.”

According to her, Safari Trails’ focus will be to draw quality agents handling high-end luxury FIT clients. “We are keen on exploring the markets of Ahmedabad and Bengaluru besides Mumbai and Delhi. We have started participating in trade events jointly with Kenya Tourism Board as well,” she said.

From the viewpoint of a tourist, particularly from that of a foreign traveller, a word tantamount with India is ‘culture’. Festivals have been generating a significant amount of tourists and are being recognised as a form of cultural tourism, by the Ministry of Tourism (MoT), Govt. of India as well as the state tourism boards, with millions of tourists attending major Indian festivals each year. Cultural tourism is one of the significant branches of tourism. The World Tourism Organization suggests that more than 40 percent of all international tourists are “cultural tourists”.

The study of festivals and events is now an important and prolific area of tourism research enquiry. Festivals and events have flourished in recent decades and interest in understanding their significance in the tourism academy has risen accordingly, stated Arun Srivastava, Deputy Director General/Regional Director, Northern India, Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India, “The festivals have changed over the years. Earlier festivals were associated with key calendar moments, linked specifically to particular seasons and heritage sites. Over the last decade these have been changed and developed, and there is now a broad and diverse range of festivals and events taking place all over India through the year.”

When one observes the marketing campaigns used to promote India, the fairs and festivals of this country are some of the key contributors to the image of Incredible India. MOT is organising the 3rd Annual International Travel Mart at Shillong, Meghalaya, in October 2014 with the objective of promoting tourism from the world over, to the North Eastern region. The first edition took place in Guwahati, Assam, after which it moved to Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh.

Recognising the potential that this segment holds, Subhash Goyal, President, Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) said, “Festivals have the potential to extend tourist seasons, peak seasons and introduce a “new season” for a destination. Events such as festivals not only attract tourists but also help to develop or maintain a community or regional identity. Festivals constitute one of the most exciting and fastest growing forms of leisure, business, and tourism-related phenomena.”

Srivastava stated that fairs and festivals are rising in popularity and are generating demand among tourists, along with creating trends in the niche tourism segment. “Tourism boards across the world have used festivals for generating opportunities to promote tourism. It is time that India follows a similar trend and slowly makes its mark as a premier events and festival destination.”

Local festival celebrations have generated great curiosity in the domestic and inbound markets. This recent trend is turning into a big advantage for the Indian tourism industry and the major stakeholders believe that with the correct marketing and positioning of the festival or event, this particular segment may prove to be the biggest tourist pull for India.


India: The ‘Nation of festivals’

In a nation as diverse as India, several cultures have, over the centuries, made India a land of everlasting festivals. Every small occasion, from welcoming the spring or rain and the harvesting of crops, to seeing the full moon, lends itself to joyous celebrations splashed with colours, music, folk dances and songs.

The Kumbh Mela festival is the largest gathering of religious pilgrims in the world and takes place at the intersection of the Yamuna, Ganges and Saraswati rivers. An increasing number of foreign tourists attend the Kumbh Mela to be part of the celebrations and witness religious practices. “More than 120 million (12 crore) people visited this event, which is the largest number in any Kumbh in Allahabad so far. A tented township was set up for the pilgrims over an area of 2 hectares of land along the river. As many as five power substations, temporary police stations, hospitals and stalls were set up for providing various facilities to the visitors,” informed, Shashank Vikram, Managing Director, Uttar Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation.

He further added that the state tourism board has also tied up with the travel trade and set up tour packages that are suited best for international as well as domestic tourists. The Pushkar Fair in Rajasthan, which had earlier begun as a means for trade in the deserts of the state, has now been popularised as a world-famous cattle fair. Hundreds of herders descend upon Pushkar in the state of Rajasthan for the five-day annual camel fair. The festival attracts 300,000 people and up to 20,000 camels, cattle and horses. The event, which sees tough bartering over livestock, has also become a major tourist attraction in recent years with a fair football match between the locals and visitors. The festival also includes music performances and competitions such as the ‘matka phod’, ‘longest moustache’ and ‘bridal competition’. The Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC) has been persistently promoting the Pushkar Fair, especially for the inbound market.

Sailendra Agarwal, Principal Secretary- Tourism, Rajasthan Government said, “Pushkar has now turned into a significant tourist attraction due to the footfall that the fair has witnessed. Pushkar now attracts tourists even during the non-festive season. We plan to promote this festival in international markets on a much bigger scale as we realise that we need to show the world how unique we are.”

Gujarat is state that has made its mark on the international tourism map by predominantly promoting its fairs and festivals. The Navratri festival and the Rann Utsav of Kutch are the most important and internationally renowned festivals. Gujarat has been aggressively promoting fairs and festivals in the state as there has been an increasing interest and footfall for the same in the state. “In 2013-14 the Rann of Kutch festival saw in all 2.5 lakh tourists out of which 37 per cent were international travelers,” shared Sonal Mishra , Secretary (Tourism, Devasthanam Management and Pilgrimage), Govt of Gujarat.

Other festivals gaining momentum in Gujarat include International Kite Festival (Uttarayan), Modhera Dance Festival, Bhavnath Fair, Chitra Vichitra Fair, Tarnetar Fair, Bhadrapad Ambaji Fair, Navratri Festival, Lili Parikrama Fair, Shamlaji Fair, Vautha Fair, Kawnat Fair, Rann Utsav, Tanariri Festival and Dangs Darbar Festival, Gujarat is a delight for art and culture lovers. Mishra further informed that festivals are a major part of Gujarat’s promotional campaign and will remain a USP for the state.

Festivals are now being developed with the primary motive of promoting them as tourism products and also increasing tourist footfall for the destination. The Ladakh Festival, conducted for 15 days every year, is one such festival. Apart from music, folk dancing and archery competitions, one of the festival’s main attractions are polo matches played in a dusty ground framed by the former royal palace and stark rocky ridges. Ladakh as a destination has grown in popularity, especially among domestic tourists due to the extensive promotion of festivals like the Ladakh Festival. Many tours for the Ladakh Festival have been launched in the market.

Known for its elaborate carnivals, music festivals and food festivals, Goa is the ‘It’ place to visit from international as well as domestic tourists. Touted as the Rio de Janeiro of India, Goa is on everybody’s bucket list. This year Goa Tourism will only focus on promoting its festivals, carnivals and events, shared Nikhil Desai, Director, Tourism, Govt. of Goa, said. “Goa is much more than just a beach destination and moving forward we want to establish it as an events capital of India. The Carnaval is the highlight of our state and our vision is to see it become as popular as the legendary Brazilian Carnival.”

He further stated that, buoyant by the success of festivals in Goa last year, the state is also promoting and packaging festivals and events such as the Cashew & Coconut Festival, Shigmo, Sao Jao, Bonderam and Tirpurari Purnima. “We expect more than 2.5 lakh tourists to participate in the Carnaval this year, which recorded nearly 2 lakh tourists last year,” he added.

In South India, the Snake Boat Race Festival of Kerala is thronged with tourists every year. Conducted on the second Saturday of every August, the Snake Boat Race is one of the major tourist attractions in Kerala. Vijayan Thomas, Chairman, Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) informed that Kerala Boat Festival is the unique feature of the backwaters, has become an icon of the state and attracts lakhs of tourists every year. “We are now going to build marketing campaigns around the festival and package it along with our other tourism products as Kerala is very rich in culture, art and history.”

The Kerala Government is also gearing up for the eighth edition of Grand Kerala Shopping Festival (GKSF). Starts from December 2014, the Season 8 – the largest shopping carnival of Kerala – will ends in January 2015. The festival, organised by the government of Kerala in association with the state’s Department of Tourism, offers 100 per cent VAT refund to tourists from outside the state who visit and shop in Kerala during the season.


New entrants cashing in on the segment

West Bengal Tourism will also focus on its festivals and religious heritage. The West Bengal government has taken several initiatives to participate in all major travel and tourism festivals across India. Needless to say, the tourism industry contributes significantly to the foreign exchange earnings, and with the changing lifestyle pattern in the garb of modernity, this sector has been an area of much importance. West Bengal takes this opportunity to usher in a new era for a domestic as well as international travel market.

“With West Bengal blessed with landmark pilgrimage sites and colourful festivals, we would like to re-emphasise West Bengal and Kolkata as a destination made famous for its cultural and religious heritage. Major festivals such as the famous Durga Puja will create added value to the marketing effort of the department,” shared Umapada Chatterjee, Director Tourism, West Bengal.

Chhattisgarh Tourism Board (CTB) organises the Sirpur National Dance and Music Festival at Sirpur near Raipur every year to showcase the cultural heritage of Chhattisgarh. This event is organised every year in the first week of January by Chhattisgarh Tourism Board in order to promote Buddhist sites in Sirpur. The Buddhist cultural heritage has a long and special history that dates back to more than 2,500 years and unites most of South, South-East and East Asia. The influence of Buddhism can be seen across all Asian countries in terms of history and culture.

Uttarakhand is all set to host an Adventure Sports Festival this month at Koti Colony, Tehri. The event will highlight the various adventure sports an adventure enthusiast would enjoy. Dinesh Dhanai, Tourism, Culture, Pilgrimage Management and Religious Fairs and Youth Welfare Minister, informed that various activities of parachute jumping, para-gliding and water sports that will be showcased by the Indian Air Force personnel. Various amusement activities will be organised at the Tehri Lake, such as laser light show, hot air balloon; boating and adventure water sports. Each of these will be showcased by experts.

A cultural programme will be organised on the first evening of the two-day event. A workshop on the adventure tourism policy as well as on the plans for developing the Tehri Lake and its surroundings will be organised.

Addressing the gathering, Dhanai stated that Uttarakhand is to be developed for tourism, adding that the 45 km long lake at Tehri offers unlimited opportunities for water sports. The entire state will benefit and its impact will be felt across India, he opined.

The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) has recently started cashing in on this niche segment by developing festivals and fairs around its region all throughout the year by showcasing Maharashtra’s rich heritage through festivals. Valsa Nair-Singh, Secretary - Tourism, Govt of Maharashtra, opined “Being a new entrant in the tourism side, I am glad that the Maharashtra government has always come up with innovative and interactive tourism products for our travellers. Our new festivals such as the Elephanta Festival, the Pune festival, Ganesh Utsav, the Ellora Festival, the Kalidas Festival the Konkan and Strawberry Festivals are a part of our strategy to introduce new facets of Maharashtra to the world. The Elephanta Festival 2014 witnessed an increase of 15 to 20 per cent in foreign tourist attendance as compared with last year.

The Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) has also kept up with the promotional march for their cultural fairs and festival offerings. Chandana Khan, Special Chief Secretary, Tourism & Culture, Archaeology & Museums, Archives & Youth Services & Sports, NCC, Govt. of Andhra Pradesh (AP), said, “Both domestically and internationally, culture is now an aspect people want to experience and understand rather just gloss over it. Festivals and fairs are the best place to participate in the cultural spectrum of our country. Both in terms of inbound and domestic travellers, there is an increasing interest due to exposure and global awareness about the cultural aspects of India.”


What more can be done?

According to Goyal, there is incredible scope for Festival Tourism as there is a lot more in this segment to travel around. The right promotion is all it will take to put Fairs and Festival Tourism on the high-popularity map in the coming years.

However, safety and awareness still remain the two roadblocks faced by tour operators. “A suitable promotional strategy with special focus on Festival Tourism is necessary to create more awareness about the fairs and festivals of this country. Another important challenge is safety of travellers, especially women travellers,” he concluded.

At the recently concluded Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2013, SATTE – South Asia’s leading travel and tourism event, enjoyed great response and witnessed great interest among exhibitors as well as visitors.

At ATM 2013, GCC countries such as Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates expressed ardent interest in participating at SATTE. Other International players who also evinced fervent interest in SATTE include Jordan, Zambia, Ho chi Minh city, Namibia, Ajman, Yemen, Ras-Al-Khema, Munich, Berlin, Portugal and Romania.

International hotel chains and travel technology companies such as Time Hotels, Citymax Hotels, Abidos Hotels, Move n Pick, Millenium Hotels, Information Systems Associates (ISA), Hotel Reservation Service (HRS) and Quadlabs also showed interest in participating with SATTE next year.

SATTE will continue to maintain a good visitor turnout including the right buyers, quality audience and repeat participants in its next edition. At ATM International buyers looking at actively selling Indian destinations to their clientele viewed SATTE as a great platform to reinforce and build relationships with their prospective and current Indian partners.

The next edition of SATTE will be held at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, from 29-31 January, 2014 and at Nehru Centre, Mumbai, from 3-4 February, 2014.

T + Tours specialises in offering services across the travel spectrum with the main focus on MICE, Trade Fairs Leisure & Luxury Holidays. For 2013 the travel company will continue to target the conference and incentives groups within the country. “We at T Plus offer our clients carefully crafted travel options, which include organising conferences, award nights, accommodation, air travel and sightseeing. We are soon planning to launch a new product specially for our MICE division,” Fred Divecha, COO & Director, T Plus Tours (India) informed adding that if need be the company also tailor make itineraries and provide out of the box ideas and experiences that will help the MICE groups unwind after work.

Speaking about the destinations that are famous among Indian business travellers, Divecha said, “Choice of destination depends completely upon the clients profile and budget. There are many companies with a strict minimal budget that prefer short haul destinations to cut out travel time and cost. At the same time high profile companies do not mind spending money on their employees.” He further added that apart from short haul destinations emerging long haul destinations are gaining momentum in the Indian market.

This year, Worldhotels will be launching a series of initiatives focused on innovative and segmented sales, marketing and e-Commerce solutions, Roland Jegge, Executive Vice President Asia Pacific, Worldhotels, revealed. “These initiatives will help hotels achieve optimum results in targeting luxury and leisure guests through the use of social media and advertising campaigns as main leverages,” he added.

Globally, Worldhotels is aiming to develop and support 50 hotels under its portfolio by the end of 2014 and out of that about 10 will be in India,” he said. According to him, India is likely to contribute five per cent to Worldhotels’ global sales by 2014, compared to about two per cent at present. “We have seen a dramatic increase in bookings from Indian customers over the past years and there is a large amount of upper upscale hotels being built which could qualify for the Worldhotel brand and respond to our need to offer more hotels for our customers travelling to the Indian sub-continent.” Asia Pacific as a region contributes about 20 per cent to the company’s total sales.

He further added, “India is very important to us. It is now the second year that we have an office here. We are now strengthening it with sales force to develop the business and also to produce RFPs and domestic business for our Indian hotels, which will come to double over the next one year.”

The destinations being looked at are Hyderabad, Pune, Goa, Kolkata, and also Colombo and Dhaka. “In cities like Delhi and Mumbai, we currently have two hotels in each but we can easily add two/three more properties in both cities because the business is so fragmented,” stated Naresh Chandnani, Regional Director- Business Development, Indian Subcontinent & Maldives, WorldHotels. They are also looking at tier-II cities like Aurangabad, Jaipur, Indore, etc. The properties range from business hotels to large resorts.

Moving forward, the hotel brand is looking at driving outbound business from India to our hotels overseas informed Chandnani, “This year we will focus on promoting our international hotels in India. This will help us showcase our brand and services that we offer. We have already started catering to large Indian MICE and wedding groups at our hotel in Bali that has a huge convention centre, conference hall and meeting space.”

For the Indian market Worldhotels launched its very own Guest Loyalty Programme at a recent hotel investment conference in Mumbai. “A loyalty programme is the ultimate resource for hotels to stay in direct contact with their guests and keep them from going through third parties,” Jegge said, adding that it is time the hoteliers reinforce the strength of belonging to a global group.

Tourism Ireland views India as a major market amongst the emerging ones and is looking to increase the total number of visitors from India to 40,000-50,000 in a period of five years. Jim Paul, Head of Australia & Developing Markets, Tourism Ireland, said, “We are expecting a double-digit growth in Indian visitor arrivals every year. We are making progress in the Indian market. However, we want to strengthen our presence in the Indian market and this is only possible by regular engagement with the Indian travel trade and media.”

Tourism Ireland recently organised India Sales Mission 2013 in Mumbai and Delhi. A delegation of 17 people from 13 tourism companies comprising hotels, tour operators and district council met over 100 tour operators in the two cities. “India Sales Mission 2013 witnessed the highest number of Irish suppliers till date. There is a growing interest from the India market and a number of agents are selling Ireland. This year we are promoting new products that will appeal to every age group,” Paul informed.

The Irish suppliers who came for the India Sales Mission 2013 included Belfast City Council; Carton House, Hotel & Golf Resort; Central Hotel; Limerick Travel; Railtours; Ramada Portrush Hotel; Stena Line; The Doyle Collection; The Gibson Hotel; The Merchant Hotel; The Shelbourne Hotel Dublin and Titanic Belfast.

The Global India Business Meeting 2013 will be held on 23- 24 June, 2013 in Belfast, Northern Ireland and co-hosted by the Northern Irish government and the City of Belfast. “Belfast was chosen to host an event of such magnitude. India is a new market for us and will be our focus for the next three years. We will be looking at tapping various tourism segments and will also showcase the culture and heritage that we have to offer,” Shirley McCay, Head of Economic Initiatives and International Relations, Belfast City Council said.

Ireland’s newest attraction- The Titanic Belfast has alone received over 2,000 Indian tourists in 2012, informed Tim Husbands, Chief Executive, Titanic Belfast.

Travel agents are Ireland’s main focus in India. “The sole objective of the mission is to educate the top travel agents and tour operators about the many things to see and do on a holiday or business trip to Ireland and to encourage them to include the destination in their future travel programmes and brochure. We are looking at joint promotions, FAM trips and road shows. We are looking to do a lot of in-house office trainings very soon,” said Paul.

With offices in Mumbai and Delhi, Tourism Ireland’s programme of promotions in India involves co-operative activity with influential intermediaries such as airlines and tour operators. “Latest estimates by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) suggest that India will account for 50 million outbound tourists by 2020 and we believe this market could play a significant part in helping us grow tourism from overseas in 2013 and beyond,” opined Paul.

India is a strategically important market for Singapore Changi Airport being the seventh largest market for Changi based on current seat capacity. “We were looking at launching ourselves in the market through an interactive platform to promote the airport as a gateway to other parts of the world and SATTE fits the bill. This was the perfect gateway for us to India,” said Peh Ke-Wei, Vice President, Passenger Development, Changi Airport Group.

The 12 Indian destinations with non-stop links to Singapore are important for Changi as India is both a strong local and transit market, stated Ke-Wei. “Connections from India via Singapore are particularly strong to Australia, Indonesia, North Asia and the west coast of the US which are large markets from India that have limited non-stop services. Singapore is also the only international destination to the east for several secondary Indian cities, giving Changi an advantage over other international hubs,” he said.

Speaking about promotional strategy for India, Ke- Wei said, “We are strongly looking at tapping the tier II travel trade in India. We want to promote Changi Airport as a tourist attraction in Singapore. We want to overtake the Middle Eastern hubs and become a majot hub for the Indian traveller.” Changi Airport is also looking at tying up with various airlines that fly out of India. “We are looking at offering special perks and incentives to airlines and passengers that are flying to various destinations via Changi Airport.”

Ke- Wei further informed that Changi Airport experienced its busiest month ever in December 2012 to cross the 50-million passenger movements mark for the first time. Passenger traffic for 2012 totalled 51.2 million, increasing by 10.0 per cent over the whole of 2011. Flight movements grew 7.6 per cent to 324,700.

“There were 29,000 landings and take-offs in January 2013, 4.7 per cent more than a year ago. As at 1 January 2013, Changi Airport handles more than 6,500 weekly scheduled flights with 110 airlines connecting Singapore to 240 cities in 60 countries around the world.”

The seventh busiest international airport today, Changi Airport is a major air hub in Asia, Serving more than 100 international airlines flying to some 220 cities in about 60 countries and territories worldwide, “With 330 retail stores and 120 F&B outlets occupying over 70,000 square metres of commercial space across its three terminals, Changi Airport is also one of Singapore’s best places for shopping and dining. Increasingly, the airport has become a favourite destination for Singapore residents, especially families,” said Ke- Wei.

 

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