With a target of 16 per cent growth in 2017, Carola Muller – van Rijn, Global Travel Trade Manager, NBTC Holland Marketing, is hopeful that the new connection of Jet Airways from Bengaluru to Amsterdam is only going to fuel this growth.
Q What kind of growth have you seen from the Indian market?
The growth in visitor numbers from India was around 33 percent last year, which went from 100,000 arrivals to 130,000 Indian visitors in 2016. This year, we forecast a 16 percent growth in that number, which would mean around 147,000 Indian visitors. By 2020, we expect this number to reach 185,000, which is a substantial growth. The Jet Airways and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flights on this route are mostly full and we are sure that we are going to reach that number significantly.
Q How did the growth trajectory change after Jet Airways launched the flights to Amsterdam last year?
The stakeholders we work within the Netherlands have confirmed there’s an increase in numbers to their accommodations and we hope that this trend keeps continuing. Last year, when Jet Airways started flying to the Amsterdam hub, we saw an opportunity to promote destination Holland, as part of that connectivity. Jet Airways is now going to launch a new route from Bengaluru to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Also, KLM is increasing its flight capacity. With Bengaluru being the new route, we are bringing it into our marketing plan for the year as well. It is also a part of this sales mission, along with Delhi and Mumbai.
Q What kind of marketing activities are you carrying out in India?
Our focus group is quite broad and includes FITs, leisure groups and family groups. We focus on the leisure segment more than the MICE segment. As a tourism board, what we are doing is that apart from the iconic destinations like Amsterdam, Zaanse Schans and Madurodam, which are must-see places, we are also promoting areas which could be lesser known to the Indian traveller. Holland is a very compact country. It’s easy to travel around, and thus, we promote Holland as one big metropolis of different districts, with different themes attached to them. We always do a mixture of consumer and trade activities. While we have some PR activities or press releases, there are some consumer activities like advertising as well as trade advertising. We do in-house training sessions, attend travel shows in India, and this sales mission is also a part of the trade activity, where we bring key Dutch stakeholders to India, who have an interest in the market or have relevance in the market and promote the destination through them. We will also do some trade shows that will be hosted locally and would be managed by our representative office in India. We will also have a familiarisation trip to the Netherlands for the travel trade in India, which will take place in October this year. Now, we are already focusing on next year.
Q Apart from the metros, are you also looking at Tier-II or III markets?
It’s all based on a budget because India is a big market. We are right now only focusing on Tier-I markets. By expanding in the smaller markets, we don’t want the message to become too scattered and too fragmented.
Q Are you marketing Holland as part of the European itineraries or stand-alone destination?
We promote the Netherlands as a stand-alone destination. We are aware that Indians don’t only travel to the Netherlands but travel to many European countries together. However, our promotion revolves around the Netherlands as a solo destination only.
Q How was the response of Indian agents and tour operators at the sales mission?
Most of the agents I met know Holland quite well, specifically areas like Keukenhof or Amsterdam, which is a positive sign. This also fits in very well with our strategy of promoting different parts of the Netherlands to the Indian consumer by associating certain themes or by focusing on different themes. We want to make people aware that many other places are also there, and a lot of tour operators are also looking for new products.
“We are aware that Indians don’t only travel to the Netherlands but travel to many European countries together. However, our promotion revolves around the Netherlands as a solo destination only”- Carola Muller – van Rijn, Global Travel Trade Manager, NBTC Holland Marketing