The number of visas issued by Vietnam to Indians has grown 24 times compared to pre-pandemic levels. Addressing the Outbound Tourism Summit organised by FICCI, Pham Sanh Chau, Ambassador, Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, said, “Vietnam issued around 250 visas per day before that pandemic,” adding, “yesterday, the immigration authority told me that India came first in the world with 6000 visas issued per day.”
Highlighting the reasons behind the increase, the Vietnamese ambassador cited “proximity” and “opening of direct flights“ as possible reasons and said, “now there will be 17 direct flights between major cities of India and Vietnam.” In addition, he referred to the experience factor in tourism and said, “Vietnam is a new destination; it is a new experience for you.”
On occasion, ambassadors and diplomats from Cuba, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Germany also spoke on issues and opportunities concerning tourism in their countries.
Alejandro Simancas Marin, Ambassador, Embassy of the Republic of Cuba, alluded to numerous investment opportunities in the Cuban tourism sector. He said: “Cuban tourism sector is open to foreign investment and the Cuban Ministry of Tourism has a portfolio of 176 different products that are offered for foreign investment.” However, he averred that not many Indians visited Cuba and cited a “lack of direct flights between Indian cities and Cuban cities” as a possible reason.
Muhamed Cengic, Ambassador, Embassy of Bosnia & Herzegovina, New Delhi, India, also alluded to the “experience” factor in tourism. He said, “Bosnia has more waterfalls than France and Spain combined.” He noted that Bosnia is not much known among Indian tourists; however, “it is part of the Balkans, which is becoming popular among Indian tourists,” He added: “if you are travelling to the Balkan area, you travel to at least three countries that are very diverse, by nature, by culture, by history,”
Dr Stephan Hesselmann, Minister Counsellor, Deputy Head, Department for Economical & Global Affairs, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, New Delhi, India, noted tourism as a source for creating business opportunities. He referred to the recently launched free trade negotiations between the EU and India and said, “we want to increase our economic relations, and tourism is one significant economic factor.” Dr Hesselman also referred to the “huge demand for Visa at the moment,” which is “impossible in the short term.” He urged to “apply early enough for travels.”
Dr Jyotsna Suri, Past President FICCI, Chairperson, FICCI Travel, Tourism & Hospitality Committee & CMD of The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group, said, ‘we survived this entire pandemic on domestic tourism. But that is not sufficient. We have to have a healthy inbound and outbound to be a complete tourism destination.” She added: “There were almost 27 million Indians who travelled outside of India, which is double the tourists that came into India.”
During the past few months, Indian travel operators have recorded excellent business. Industry participants state that there is a positive mood in the sector. Ankush Nijhawan, Chairman, FICCI Outbound Tourism Committee & Co-Founder, TBO.com & MD, Nijhawan Group, noted that the “revival in tourism is behind us now….. let’s talk about growth, or how the opportunity will unfold.”
Talking about the tourism sector globally, Nijhawan said that between FY 16-19, there were more than 1.5 trillion outbound trips, and 135 destinations received more than a million arrivals. However, he averred that many of us do not realise how large the market is. He noted that tourists spent USD 9 trillion in 2019. “It grew by about 5 per cent from 2016 and expected to have $11.5 trillion to be spent in the FY24.”
Speaking about the recovery in global tourism, Nijhawan said, “Market has come back faster than what the experts thought.” He added: “when we see all these pieces of baggage being lost at Heathrow, checkin issues at Europe, challenges with Visa, it is because we never realised how quickly the market will recover.”
Rajan Sehgal, Co-Founder- PASSIONALS, President – Indian Golf Tourism Association & Member – MANAS under the aegis of the Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government Of India, delivered the welcome address.