With an aim to promote India as a year-round destination, the Indian contingent made a fantastic show of strength at World Travel Market (WTM) London. Rashmi Verma, Secretary Tourism, Govt of India, announced that 2018 will be celebrated as the Year of Adventure Tourism in India.
PEDEN DOMA BHUTIA FROM LONDON
With a country so diverse, be it the cultural heritage, festivals, cuisine or natural beauty, India has a plethora of tourism products to offer to its visitors. Lately, experiential and wellness travel have been fast gaining ground among discerning travellers. Catering to this particular segment, the Incredible India stand at WTM London witnessed a colourful show of spiritual tourism.
With special emphasis also being given to promote tourism for Northeastern States, the Ministry also showcased India’s North East-The Paradise Unexplored on November 6.
The Indian delegation led by Rashmi Verma, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, apprised the international travel media about various initiatives being taken up by the ministry to increase tourist arrivals in the country.
“India tourism has been growing at a fast pace. We have jumped 25 places as per the World Tourism Forum and our ranking has improved from 65 to 40. In 2016, India received 8.80 million FTAs with a growth rate of 9.7 per cent as compared to the international trend of about 3.5 per cent. This year, so far, the growth has been 15. 6 per cent, which is very encouraging. In terms of foreign exchange receipts also, our growth has been commendable. In comparison to the international growth of about two per cent in 2016, India’s foreign exchange receipt has gone up by almost 8.8 per cent. We are witnessing a growth, but we still have a long way to go and there is a lot of potential which we would like to maximise,” says Verma.
Talking about the government initiatives, she touched upon the e-Tourist Visa (eTV) facility that has now been extended to 162 countries and then went on to say, “Recently, we celebrated Paryatan Divas in our country where our main focus was Tourism for All and Dekho Apna Desh in which we encouraged domestic tourists to first experience their own country. We also want the NRI crowd to not just visit their home and relatives when they come to India, but also go around the country and travel.”
Recalling the Incredible India campaign that was launched in 2002, Verma says that the ministry will now be launching the all-new Incredible India website which will be going live from December 25. “The Incredible India campaign created awareness about India’s diversity and the products in India, people now recognise Incredible India as a branding for India tourism. We want to take it beyond that now and we are in the process of launching Incredible India 2.0. But this new version will not be generic, we want to make it more market and product specific, we will showcase niche products like golf tourism, cuisine, adventure tourism and cruise tourism in the right markets. We are going to focus a lot on social media campaigns. We are very hopeful that with this Incredible India campaign 2.0, we can get people to revisit India and stay in India for a longer period and experience all the tourism products.”
Talking about the feedback from WTM, Verma says, “We saw a lot of interest especially from high-end tourists which was really encouraging. Along with that the thematic circuits we have been promoting globally and domestically also garnered a lot of interest and query at the mart. We received a very positive response from all the foreign tour operators on e-visa. There were certain issues raised as well about immigration and e-visa counters not being able to handle the traffic quickly but we swiftly took action to resolve them by coordinating with the Home Ministry. However, there is a need to increase the counters for immigration and e-visa.
“In 2016, India received 8.80 million FTAs with a growth rate of 9.7 per cent as compared to the international trend of about 3.5 per cent. This year, so far, the growth has been 15.6 per cent, which is very encouraging”
Rashmi Verma Secretary-Tourism, Government of India