To attract more leisure travellers to the Northeast, JTI Group introduced a short, three-night river cruise itinerary on the Brahmaputra. The company is also adding a new vessel to its fleet.
In 2017, the JTI Group clocked 20 per cent business as compared to the previous year and has seen its cruises business on an upswing. Nirmalya Choudhury, Executive Director—Operations, JTI Group, points out that with the increase in the footfall of foreign tourists to the North-East, the tourism industry in the region has been on the rise.
“It is interesting to note an increase from southern states of India towards the Northeast besides our usual source markets”
For the year 2018, the company has introduced a new product on the Assam-Bengal navigation route. Choudhury informs, “We have seen an increase in visits of leisure travellers to the North-East and usually these clients do not have enough time to do a long, traditional river cruise, which is usually of seven nights and longer. Thus, to attract a larger number of leisure travellers, we have come up with a three-night itinerary river cruise starting and ending at Kolkata. Most of the visitors can integrate this shorter cruise with any of their travel plans in India. The local DMCs can promote this product in conjunction with say three nights in Kolkata city and as a part of a larger Indian itinerary.”
The company had earlier introduced a new product—single cabin, small houseboat on the Brahmaputra which has been appreciated by many. “We did not market this product too much and relied on our industry colleagues in various parts of India to send clients. So far, the response has been tremendous, and it goes on to show the increase in interest for river cruising in India.”
According to him, cruise tourism is doing very well in the region with more companies entering the market and newer vessels being built. “We are also building our fourth vessel which will join our fleet in October 2018. Thus, we will have two vessels on the Ganges and two on the Brahmaputra,” Choudhury says.
He explains that in terms of inbound travellers, the largest source market remains to be the UK, though the region is also witnessing an influx from countries like France, Germany and Australia. In terms of domestic segment, he says, “Though WB, Maharashtra and Gujarat have been the largest source markets, it is interesting to note an increase from the southern states towards the Northeast.”
Given this interest from the south, the company will conduct few roadshows in the southern cities in collaboration with the local association of tour operators.