Passage to India


In October the Indian Tourism Board took over 160 tour operators, travel agents, and media members to Kerala, Goa, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Mysore on an educational tour. The aim of that tour was to show the world that India throbbed with vibrancy and culture far removed from the headlines that adorned newsprint and flashed on TV screens the world over.

"We wanted them to sample the 'product' for themselves and on returning to their native countries, float the packages," says G Kanjilal, regional director for Indian Tourism Middle East.

"In fact," says Kanjilal, "We have worked out a specific marketing plan that covers core as well as niche markets."

After September 11, more and more tourists started looking East rather than West to holiday, and India is planning on capitalizing on that trend. According to Kanjilal their aggressive campaign aimed at wooing tourists has been rather successful.

Of course there have been problems and setbacks. "The general perception about the Indo-Pak situation and the fact that a large number of GCC nationals preferred to vacation within the region for security reasons did put a damper on expectations, India did quite well in luring the health tourist with its rejuvenation packages being offered by Ayurvedic resorts in Kerala, Goa, and Bangalore," said Kanjilal.

Over 110,000 Arab nationals visit India every year, with the UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar providing 60 per cent of the traffic from the West Asia market, the rest coming from Iran, Yemen, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon. As regional airlines expand their network in India by gaining enhanced flying rights the market is showing a positive trend.

To assist Arab tourists the Indian tourism Board is updating its Arabic website with more pages on tourist attractions, accommodation, travel tips, festivals, shopping, etc.

The development of spa facilities is adding a new dimension to the incentive and conference attraction, such as a rejuvenation experience with ayurvedic treatment.

India is planning on participating in ATM Dubai, MTF Cairo, and the DSF.