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Wednesday, 04 February, 2015, 21 : 00 PM [IST]

Vision 2015: Travel and Tourism - NTOs

The year 2014 saw the Indian government, which is pro-tourism, take a few measures to boost the industry. The most significant one was the launch of Visa-on-Arrival enabled by Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA). While the Centre's initiatives have given a renewed sense of optimism to the industry, there is a lot more to be done in the year ahead. That is the popular opinion among players from the industry. TravelBiz Monitor speaks to National Tourist Offices (NTOs) to know what the past year was like and their vision for 2015


With the rapidly increasing number of Indian outbound tourists, 2014 saw bustling activity by many NTOs and a number of them concentrating on the Indian market. In order to gain recognition and visibility, NTOs have worked throughout the year in tandem with the Indian travel trade, and conducted many promotional activities. TravelBiz Monitor speaks to them about the initiatives and those planned for 2015

bejan_dinshaw_id.jpgBejan Dinshaw
Country Manager-India,
Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi)

India is currently Abu Dhabi’s leading overseas source market for hotel guests. Abu Dhabi welcomed 186,596 Indian hotel guests from January-October 2014 at a growth rate of 33 per cent over the same period in 2013. These guests delivered 694,978 guest nights, which is up by 25 per cent year-on-year. TCA Abu Dhabi has capped off a successful year with a number of activities promoting the destination. During this year, we organised a five-city roadshow in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, and Delhi with 13 stakeholders promoting Abu Dhabi’s sightseeing attractions, hotels, theme parks, and adventure options. The roadshows attracted over 500 participants from over 400 travel companies from all the five cities combined.

The Jean Nouvel-designed Louvre Abu Dhabi will open in 2015, followed a year later by the Zayed National Museum and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi in 2017. Our target is to continue our current growth performance with a sustained rise in the number of hotel guests from India staying in Abu Dhabi. We hope to leverage on the emirate’s increasing ease of air access – with more flights than ever from a variety of Indian gateways – as well as affordability with value through a highly competitive average room rate, which now stands at AED 348 – or just USD 95.

Medha_Sampat_id.jpgMedha Sampat
India Representative,
INPROTUR,
The National Institute for the Promotion of Tourism of Argentina

2014 has been a very good year for us. We have seen more agents who have taken an active interest to promote Argentina to their clients. The response from the travel trade as well as the Indian travellers has been great. We received MICE travellers from India, which has been very encouraging.

The Indian traveller wants to explore and experience much more, and the idea is to provide that extra excitement. 2015 is when this will turn into a reality. The destination offers an assortment of products, which can be packaged in an innovative way, so it is important to educate the trade on this amazing destination. We have commenced training the trade and will continue to conduct mono-Argentina trade shows. We have been participating in trade fairs that were held in Mumbai and Delhi and started targeting other regional markets and cities. The response has been spectacular. The idea is to develop the market with a long-term perspective. FAM trips have been undertaken and the Indian travel trade has been made to experience the destination. Many initiatives are planned on various levels to engage the travel trade as well as the Indian traveller. We have more aggressive plans to approach the Indian market in 2015.

nishant_kashikar_id.jpgNishant Kashikar
Country Manager,
India and Gulf,
Tourism Australia

For the year ended (YE) September 2014, Australia has witnessed record arrivals from the Indian market, and seen the highest growth in tourist arrivals over the past six years.

2015 starts off with the Indian cricket team touring Australia and will offer significant engagement opportunities for Tourism Australia. To leverage the attention and viewership that the sporting events are slated to receive in India, Tourism Australia has planned a robust integrated media campaign, to increase visibility for the country as a tourism destination. The 'Restaurant Australia' campaign will be sustained with a strong tactical focus on media vehicles, including television, print, out-of-home, and digital platforms, to coincide with the planning periods for Indian summer holidays. We’ll continue to build our associations with our key aviation and distribution partners, as well as drive advocacy through our public relations initiatives and our International Media Hosting Program.

christine_mukharji_id.jpgChristine Mukharji
Market Manager,
Austrian National Tourist Office (ANTO) India

Indian overnight stays in Tirol have increased significantly during the last 20 years. In Austria, Tirol is the leader with a market share of 38 per cent of all Indians visiting Austria. The most popular tourist spots in Tirol are the Swarovski Crystal Worlds and the city of Innsbruck, which accounts for the majority of the Indian overnight stays in Tirol. The Hindi movie 'Action Jackson' was recently shot in Tirol, at locations in and around Innsbruck during September 2014. Over the last three months, there has been a boom in MICE groups visiting Vienna. We have tried to get in touch with the big companies/corporate entities when they are looking out for new destinations for the incentive trips. Similarly, we achieved over 20 per cent growth in arrivals to Vienna in 2014 alone.

We have promoted new destinations at different points of times for leisure travellers, which have so far not been much on itineraries such as Ötztal, Arlberg and Kitzbühel, which are scenic villages near Innsbruck. This year we will highlight the aspects of Imperial Austria, which showcases the diversity of culture throughout the year.

sunil_puri_id.jpgSunil Puri
Managing Director,
Visit Flanders,
Tourism Office of Flanders & Brussels (Belgium) in India

We expect growth from 2014 to be escalated further this year. Also, with the release of one of the much-awaited Bollywood films 'PK', which is the first Indian feature film to be shot in the city of Bruges in Flanders, we expect a rise in interest among Indian FITs for Bruges and other art cities of Flanders. Already, some of the music festivals in Flanders like Tomorrowland have made it a major destination among Indian travellers looking for exclusive experiences around the world. Flanders is now being perceived as a unique destination in the heart of Europe, offering distinctive and diverse experiences ranging from music, chocolates, beer, art and architecture, children activities and comics. This will attract more tourists in the coming years.

From 2014 to 2018, VISITFLANDERS will be on the forefront of the commemoration activities for the centenary of World War I. So, as part of the four-year long remembrance project, the Flemish government and the Indian Army came together in October 2014 to commemorate the efforts of Indian soldiers during the War.

For 2015, in addition to these commemoration activities, VISITFLANDERS will work at showcasing the region's diverse culinary scene, rich beer heritage, and the fabulous Flemish art cities in the Indian market—all a perfect display of Flanders' cutting-edge craftsmanship.

carl_vaz_id.jpgCarl Vaz
Director – India,
Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing

2014 was a good year for Dubai Tourism. From January to September, we saw ten per cent growth in visitor numbers over 2013. We are confident of maintaining the growth rate in the last quarter of 2014 as well. In 2013, we registered 888,835 Indian overnights, and are confident of a significant number for 2014. To tap the right segments in India, we plan to network with the travel trade, including OTAs, traditional travel agents, and specialists in various segments. We will also engage in consumer joint promotions and profiling events like the Dubai Food Festival. We would also like to organise more FAM trips for the media.

priscila_moscoso_meiller_id.jpgPriscila Moscoso Meiller
Trade Officer,
Commercial Office of Ecuador,
Mumbai

PRO Ecuador opened its office in Mumbai over a year ago. In this past one year, the Commercial Office of Ecuador has worked its way in the Indian market with respect to their trade offerings and opportunities for investors. Taking one step further, the past year saw PRO Ecuador seeking to boost trade relations between the two countries. We conducted a roadshow in collaboration with CII, focusing on major Indian cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Chennai. The objective was to highlight the scope of investments in Ecuador by successfully tapping potential investors from India. These investors received information on the popular items imported to India from Ecuador like teakwood, flowers, sea food, coffee, chocolate, and other food items, and the potential of these products for the Indian market.

We truly believe that ‘All you need is Ecuador’ and the awards, response and interest to what we have to offer, in products or in investment opportunities, demonstrate this. The Indian market’s response has been overwhelming and we are looking forward to a long and fruitful association in the years to come.

kajal_somaiya_id.jpgKajal Somaiya
India Representative,
Tourism Fiji
Fiji is increasingly becoming popular in the Indian market and we have seen good growth last year. In the year ending August 2014, Fiji welcomed 3,041 visitors from India. This is a 17 per cent increase on the previous 12 months period. We have managed to train over 1,200 travel agents and tour operators across India through our roadshow, trainings, and webinar. In addition to the offline training, Tourism Fiji last month launched its online travel agent specialist training programme. The new Fiji Matai Specialist Programme and website is the must-join destination training programme for tourism partners selling Fiji. Our other main marketing initiatives for 2014 included media famils, brand and tactical campaigns, including a television brand campaign across India.

We aspire for an incremental growth in 2015 as well and have several campaigns and activities lined up for the year. We are also planning to host the second edition of the India Fiji Tourism Exchange (IFTE) later this year after the successful completion of the first edition held in September 2012. In 2015, we plan to organise IFTE on a larger scale and are looking to host about 50 Indian travel agents to Fiji for two days of B2B meetings, followed by a four-six-night FAM trip. We will be launching several ad campaigns to highlight the fact that while Fiji is a haven for honeymooners and couples, it is also an ideal destination for families, weddings, golf, and diving.

Shari Bailey
Director of International Marketing and Events,
VISIT FLORIDA

2014 was a great year for tourism to Florida. Through the first three quarters of 2014, Florida welcomed 73.9 million visitors. We launched a tailor-made Online Specialist Program for the Indian travel trade fraternity. With reference to travel trends, we observed a gradual change of perception among Indian travellers towards US destinations. Within Florida, Orlando remained the favourite destination among Indians, followed by Miami. IIFA 2014, which took place in Tampa Bay, provided an impetus to the MICE segment by attracting large crowds.

The US has always been a very popular destination among Indians. This year, we are expecting a substantial rise in the number of Indian travellers. The upcoming season is already looking very promising since Florida is one of the top holiday destinations within the US and globally. In our efforts to extensively promote the destination, we will continue to work very closely with the travel trade community and further push our e-learning programme. In January 2015, VISIT FLORIDA is hosting its annual trade event – Florida Huddle, which will see domestic as well as international tour operators, travel agents, and media interact with Florida-based sellers. This year, self-drive holidays are expected to rise among travellers as the Indian driving licence is accepted to rent a car.

catherine_oden_id.jpgCatherine Oden
Country Manager India,
Atout France

2014 was a very good year for France. The suspension of biometrics and the ease in visa procedures have had a positive impact on tourism to France.

We are very optimistic about 2015. Effective January 1, visas are being issued within 48 hours for our Indian visitors. This should be a strong motivator for our travellers to plan a French holiday. 'Be There! Do That!' shall remain our slogan for all marketing and communication campaigns this year. We plan to showcase our regions through various campaigns, promotions and B2B activities. Early this year, delegates from the region of Champagne-Ardenne will be visiting India for one-on-one meetings with travel companies. The Riviera will be in the spotlight, thanks to collaboration with the perfume brand All Good Scents. This project is based on an online contest and a lucky winner stands to win a trip for two to Paris, Nice, and Grasse. A possible collaboration with a famous French brand may see a promotion of Provence. In addition, we will look at establishing partnerships with regions such as the Midi-Pyrenees synonymous with the movie 'The Hundred-Foot Journey'. An ambitious event Goût de/Good France will celebrate French gastronomy in various locations worldwide on March 19, 2015. A total of 1,000 chefs on all five continents are expected to join the event on the eve of spring. Dinners served simultaneously in participating restaurants will honour the merits of French cuisine. Countries have been allotted a quota of 20 restaurants. The project has been enthusiastically received in India with 34 chefs already registered to be a part of this project. 

In addition to showcasing the different facets of France, we are very keen on promoting France's appeal as a family and a wedding/events destination with the objective of increasing the influx of Indian tourists to our shores.  

romit_theophilus_id.jpgRomit Theophilus
Director-Sales & Marketing,
German National Tourist Office India


2014 was a successful year for destination Germany. We saw Germany in a new light as it is now being preferred as a leisure destination as well, which is very encouraging. Incentive and Business Travel continued to grow all through the year. From January-September 2014, we witnessed 49,8185 overnights from India. We are optimistic about 2015. It will definitely be another positive year for destination Germany. We are looking forward to the increasing travel demands from group travellers, families and MICE segment. In 2015, we are looking forward to more queries on MICE, incentive trips for corporate companies. We expect an increase in series departure, FIT travels, leisure trips for families, especially from Northern and Western regions of India. Apart from this, we have witnessed growth in niche segments wherein visitors have interest in self-drives, wine regions, culinary events and festivals, and industrial visits. We see lot of potential in these segments and expect them to grow further this year. For 2015, we will carry the same rate of growth and hope to finish the year on a positive note.

shelly_chandhok_id.jpgShelly Chandhok
Country Manager,
Visit Indonesia Tourism Office

2014 was a very good year for us with more than 15 per cent growth over the year ago. We witnessed an upward trend in terms of tourist arrivals from India. The composition of Indians to Indonesia mainly includes leisure and MICE travellers. The challenge for us has been that the destination is perceived as expensive due to no direct air connectivity. The achievement has been that destinations beyond Bali are also popular now such as Bintan, Batam, Bandung, Lombok, and Yogyakarta.

Our focus will remain on activities that will result in destination awareness among travel agents covering various aspects. We plan to organise travel agents seminar in multiple cities. The Ministry of Tourism, Republic of Indonesia plans to conduct multi-city roadshows to educate travel trade partners. Some consumer driven activities are also being planned. The focus will remain on the leisure and MICE segments, and additional focus will be given to leisure travellers and on showcasing Indonesia as an ideal destination for weddings.

hassan_madah_id.jpgHassan Madah
Director-India,
Israel Ministry of Tourism

The year 2014 was a great year for Israel Tourism if we look at the Indian market and other markets in the East, like China and Indonesia, and regardless of the depreciation of the rupee and the surrounding troubles in the Middle East. We focused on educating travel agents and the industry about the destination and the products that can be offered to the Indian traveller. We conducted seminars across the country, organised a MICE FAM of leading agents to Israel and sent journalists to see Israel, first hand. We will continue educating the travel fraternity online and also offline in 2015.

The Ministry will soon launch a website dedicated to the Indian market, www.goisrael.in this year. Also, during the end of February, we will host the annual TAFI convention. Moreover, we will tie up with the tourism industry in several projects and campaigns that will help us reach the end customer.

huzan_fraser_id.jpgHuzan Fraser
India Representative,
Tourism Ireland

2014 has been a good year for Tourism Ireland in India. We have been consistently working with the Indian travel trade through sales calls, training workshops, and seminars as well as FAM trips and joint marketing campaigns. Last year we launched our Ireland Specialists training programme and over 1,000 travel trade members have signed up with over 690 certified as Ireland Specialists.

In 2015, we will be majorly promoting the Wild Atlantic Way in the Indian market. Stretching 2,500 km from County Cork on the South coast, to Donegal in the Northwest, the Wild Atlantic Way is the longest coastal touring route in the world. The Causeway Coastal Route is another important product that we believe will appeal to Indian travellers. It is one of the top scenic coastal drives in the world and stretches from Belfast to Derry-Londonderry. The route is a journey of stunning natural landscapes, from hills, mountain streams and waterfalls to a remarkable coastal road with majestic cliffs, golden sands and the Giant's Causeway where 40,000 mainly six-sided basalt columns create an eerie landscape jutting into the ocean.

We will also continue working with the travel trade and airline partners to promote the island of Ireland in India. We will also work with Visit Britain to promote Ireland and the UK jointly to the travel trade.

ashit_taneja_id.jpgAshit Taneja
Country Manager,
Jordan Tourism Bureau

We are strengthening the branding of Jordan as an extremely safe, distinctive, secure, exotic world-class destination to travel to in 2015. Our marketing activities and communication channels promoted the diversity of Jordan on multiple platforms in 2014 and will continue to do so in 2015. For example, we have had advertisements showcasing the Dead Sea for Leisure and Wellness, Petra for heritage and culture, streets of Amman for shopping, etc., on print media as joint partnerships with key travel agents. Advertisemente on television, radio, and a calendar shoot with television stars will be unveiled in 2015 along with our online promotions. We are reaching out to a variety of consumers and showcasing the richness and the vast offerings and experiences one can enjoy at Jordan and will continue to do so in 2015.

byugnsun_lee_id.jpgByugnsun Lee
Director,
Korea Tourism Organization India (KTO)

KTO has been very active in promoting MICE Tourism in the Indian market. This year, KTO is aiming for higher growth in terms of tourist arrivals from India. We are hoping to start with big movement from Indian families, honeymooners, young groups, FITs, and MICE this year, and we are targeting 25 per cent growth to cross 1,81,000 travellers.

2014 was a successful year for KTO in India. We organised five roadshows, participated in trade exhibitions, organised FAM trips for media and travel agents and launched many packages with the potential travel agents in India that could lead to growth of tourist arrivals from India. To educate Indian travellers, we ran massive media campaign and online activities through our KTO India Facebook page. Our marketing initiatives involved organising incentive roadshows, participating in MICE travel marts such at MILT, IT&CM, IBTM & MTM and organising a FAM trip for Indian corporate entities.

shikha_mishra_id.jpgShikha Mishra
PR & Media Manager,
Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation
In 2014, Indian arrivals to Maldives registered a strong growth (38 per cent) for the year ending July 2014, compared with the same period in 2013. In terms of absolute numbers, outstanding results were observed through the past seven months of 2014 with Maldives welcoming an average over hundred thousand tourists per month. The growth rate has remained positive, above average and India has shown an upward swing. Asia and the Pacific has shown a phenomenal performance over the first seven months of 2014, and the region took lead for the first time as the main market generating region, overtaking Europe, the all-time market leader for the Maldives. During July 2014, Asia and the Pacific took hold of over 61 per cent arrivals to the Maldives. South Asia was the second best performing sub-region within Asia and the Pacific, with India as the best performing main market and second biggest from the Asia Pacific region in 2014 and we expect these numbers to increase drastically in 2015.

manoharan_periasamy_id.jpgManoharan Periasamy
Director - India,
Tourism Malaysia

Malaysia Year of Festival 2015 (MyFest 2015) will be a major event after Visit Malaysia Year 2014, which saw an increase in tourism arrivals to the country. MyFest 2015 will have back-to-back major events to highlight the various festivals and cultures of Malaysia. This will include the many unique cultures of Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia Borneo. MyFest 2015 is expected to achieve tourism targets of 29.4 million arrivals from all over the world and RM 89 billion in tourist receipts.

Our promotional campaigns will be designed keeping in mind the events happening in Malaysia that would be of interest to Indian tourists. More Indians are moving away from the ‘see as much as you can’ to the ‘experiential’ part of holidaying. And as we have always promoted Malaysia as a family destination, there will be continued focus on family holidays, which include good helpings of theme parks, shopping and entertainment. India is a significant market for Malaysia in terms of tourist arrivals, and the numbers continue to support this. Last year, we have had up to 445,431 Indian tourists to Malaysia in the first seven months, which is a 13 per cent increase for the same period in 2013. The numbers look quite encouraging and we are positive of closing the year on a high note.

david_craig_id.jpgDavid Craig
General Manager Asia,
Tourism New Zealand

India is one of our key target markets for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 and we are expecting an increase in visitor arrivals during the event. We will continue to focus on the Business Events segment and aim to host many more incentive groups. We are expecting double-digit growth from the Indian market to New Zealand in 2015.

2014 has been an important year for Tourism New Zealand in the Indian market. India Tour of New Zealand, the cricket tournament hosted in New Zealand in early 2014, acted as a launch pad for all cricket-related activities. The India visit of Stephen Fleming, advocate of New Zealand for the ICC CWC 2015, in the second half of the year further strengthened our relations with the travel trade fraternity in the market. The Business Events segment was a key focus for us last year and we successfully hosted corporate evenings in Bengaluru and Delhi. We have also seen a steady increase in travellers from the family segment and those who prefer experiential travel as compared to sightseeing options. For of the year ending November 2014, New Zealand had 36,768 tourist arrivals from India, out of which 17,296 were holiday arrivals. 

lubaina_sheerazi_id.jpgLubaina Sheerazi
India Representative - Ministry of Tourism,
Sultanate of Oman
This year, we expect more Indians to travel to Oman and take benefit of the fact that it is a short-haul destination as there are several long-weekends. We will also identify key players in each of our market and have an increased dialogue and work more extensively with them. Increasing our presence on social media platforms in 2015 is also one of our priorities as we have identified it as an effective, easiest and direct way to connect with consumers.

In 2014, we conducted webinars and one-on-one training sessions for trade agents, participated in trade events and exhibitions and conducted a successful blogging contest for the well-travelled and informed bloggers of India. We also conducted some successful marketing campaigns like outdoor hoarding campaigns and radio campaigns across a few cities in India. Last year, we also conducted a Mega FAM of 60 top travel agents and tour operators. Since the FAM, we have seen an increased interest amongst Indian travel trade to sell Oman and we are hopeful that all these efforts will increase arrivals to Oman in 2015.

steven_rice_id.jpgSteven Rice
CEO,
Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority


The tourism growth is rocketing in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, which has 65 km of prime beach coastline. India is one of the top ten markets that we are focusing on. In 2014, the tourist flow from India increased by 68.47 per cent compared with the previous year. Our efforts included organising trainings, webinars, and FAM trips for tour operators and travel agents. In 2015 we will continue developing and investing in the Indian market as Ras Al Khaimah has everything that the Indian traveller would look for, from adventurous to relaxing holidays, from honeymoon to big weddings.

alefiya_singh_id.jpgAlefiya Singh
India Representative,
Reunion Island Tourism Board (IRT)


In 2015, we plan to penetrate Tier-II cities, conduct campaign advertising with important agents who gave us good business in 2014, review decisions that did not allow us to grow in the past year, and work more effectively with social media partners.

For the year 2014 the focus was on educating the agents and creating awareness for the destination through online social mediums, which today is the most effective medium, especially amongst the youth and professionals who are our target market. In the effort to do so, IRT launched an online training programme and was successful in having more than 1,000 agents as certified Reunion Destination Specialist. On the basis of certification, we will be qualifying agents for our annual FAM tour. The training programme had a minimum 90 per cent pass percentage in order to create exclusive knowledge of our French-influenced destination. The visa clause relaxation for the Indian traveller was the turning point and now the destination is witnessing a growth in tourist numbers. Indian travellers are more willing to go to visa-free destinations as it cuts down the cost and also spares us with a lot of hassles of paper work. We worked with all travel agents including online portals. A big part of success for us has been to participate in informal networking sessions, educational discussions and exchanges with fellow professionals and partners. We feel that with the introduction of the Internet, the tourism business’ potential has increased manifold. Social mediums can be a good platform to interact with fellow partners as well with clientele.

rose_marie_hoareau_id.jpgRose-marie Hoareau
Director of Marketing,
Seychelles Tourism Board

2014 was a fulfilling year for us. We started with the objective of getting key travel trade partners educated about the destination, and introduce and facilitate interaction for them with their counterparts from Seychelles. We saw more than 20 per cent increase in tourist arrivals till November 2014 compared with the same period a year ago. The commencement of direct flights has helped overcome the challenge of air connectivity to some extent and we are already seeing positive impact of it on tourist arrivals from India. We are confident that starting 2015 there will be a surge in tourist arrivals. The changing pattern of the Indian traveller is encouraging. The thirst for new destinations and new experiences is a huge potential to tap into and Seychelles has a lot to offer to every kind of traveller. We want to convey that Seychelles has much more than gorgeous beaches and is also a perfect family and small group holiday getaway.

Our ongoing efforts in inspiring and supporting the trade to promote the destinations through various activities like trainings, joint tactical campaigns, mailers, special incentives, and roadshows will continue. We will also be looking at joint branding and tactical campaigns with our airline partners. Additionally, we will be looking at small-scale events to directly engage with our target group of end travellers and directly reaching out to niche segments like nature/wildlife lovers, divers, sailing enthusiasts, wedding planners, golf lovers, etc. We understand the reach of films in India, and though at an extremely nascent stage, we are considering association with films to promote the destination.

chang_chee_pey_id.jpgChang Chee Pey
Executive Director,
South Asia, Middle East and Africa,
Singapore Tourism Board (STB)

2014 has been an eventful year for the tourism industry, and while our figures are still being tabulated, we are confident that the performance from the Indian market will remain at an even keel. Our highlights last year included our marketing initiatives, which invited parents to discover their inner ‘Superhero’ and re-live their family ‘Super Moments’ in Singapore. Our ever exciting world-class sporting events such as the Formula One Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix and the inaugural Women’s Tennis Association Finals (WTAF) too put Singapore in the spotlight, while year-end celebrations such as ‘Christmas in the Tropics’ with its spectacular light-ups on Orchard Road and Gardens by the Bay, lively Christmas market and attractive shopping deals made for an unforgettable festive holiday for both newcomers and returning tourists alike. The year was also one of celebration as Singapore was bestowed with several awards and accolades by Conde Nast Traveller India in the Readers’ Travel Awards 2014.

For business travellers, we relaunched INSPIRE 2.0 (In Singapore Incentives and Rewards) – a revamped programme with brand new activities such as customised food menus and VIP access to popular attractions to satisfy the evolving preferences of India’s incentive travel segment, who are now looking for experiences that are compelling, immersive and sophisticated.

Come 2015, Singapore steps into its 50th year of tourism. We will be celebrating this milestone year in a big way with an array of exciting and fun-filled activities year round for families, couples and friends to create unforgettable memories to take back home.

One area that we are definitely excited about is cruise, which will be a key focus area in the coming months. With Singapore being the ideal place to begin and end a cruise vacation, it will be a great way to enjoy the diversity of South East Asia and many of Singapore’s world-class attractions and lifestyle offerings. The upcoming Cruise Travel Forum (February 12), organised by STB, will be looking into the exciting world of cruise as well as India’s potential to be Asia’s next cruising giant.

hanneli_slabber_id.jpgHanneli Slabber
Country Manager India,
South African Tourism (SAT)

We see a good mix of luxury travellers, adventure-seekers, wildlife watchers, budget travellers and MICE tourists visiting South Africa year-on-year. Last year we had few challenges but we streamlined and fast tracked our visa process. South Africa aims to become one of the world’s top 20 tourism destinations by 2020 and the tourism board is determined to increase the number of global foreign tourist arrivals to 15 million by 2020. We have identified our core markets, investment markets and tactical markets across the world and we plan to effectively deliver the destination marketing message, with a wider reach than ever before. Unfortunately, we do not have the arrival statistics for the entire year yet.

We kickstart 2015 with our annual roadshow, which will travel across four cities in India. The roadshow is going to be bigger and better this year with many new South African suppliers participating in the multi-city event. Our OOH and television campaign is also in the pipeline, more details of which will be revealed closer to the launch. In addition, we will continue to engage with our travel trade partners for training and charting out some exciting packages and offers for Indian travellers.            

The winners of our biggest consumer outreach initiative, 'Take Me To South Africa' with Jonty Rhodes have just returned from South Africa after an exciting two weeks in the country with our Brand Ambassador as their personal guide and host. The journey of these four winners will be showcased on Discovery and TLC this year highlighting varied, fun-filled, adrenaline pumping adventures and experiential holiday offerings available in South Africa for Indian travellers.

noel_saxena_id.jpgNoel Saxena
Country Head,
Taiwan Tourism Bureau

In 2015 we will be seeking fresh marketing initiatives in tandem with a collaborative spirit with a purpose. We are looking forward to potentially gaining advantage by utilising our presence amongst travel trade consumers, media and also using modern strategies and technologies to reach out to the masses. Digital marketing, information and communication will become the cornerstone of Taiwan Tourism in particular, and the tourism industry in general, in the coming year.

Asia’s heart and Taiwan’s warmth are what Taiwan Tourism offers to the traveller. Taiwan is a fusion of tradition with new trends. Its special characteristics and diversity present what is precisely a microcosm of Asia. It has an immensely rich cultural and spiritual heritage, amazing food, world-class hot-springs and stunning scenery.

soraya_homchuen_id.jpgSoraya Homchuen
Director,
Tourism Authority of Thailand Mumbai Office

This year we are going to further step up efforts in the luxury segment this year. We are streamlining the processes related to attracting student groups. The wedding segment is going to attract additional focus and maybe even a dedicated budget. We are planning to showcase the underwater wedding which takes place in Trang on Valentine’s Day and we hope that this will open up Trang for Indian weddings. We want to see a substantial increase in our arrivals figures from India. In early 2015, we are taking a delegation from Surat to Surat Thani in order to open up the Surat Thani archipelago to the Indian market. We hope to welcome many more travellers from this ripe-with-potential Gujarat market in 2015.

2014 has been a year of great progress for destination Thailand in India. Our efforts in the luxury segment have begun paying off dividends. We are seeing an increasing number of luxury travellers considering Thailand for golf, diving, sailing, yacht breaks, holistic wellness, etc. We also see that the Indian market – across segments – is exploring newer frontiers in Thailand. Additionally, Indians are indulging in new kinds of experiences. I already mentioned golf (we also partnered with Golftripz for special packages for golfers), diving, sailing, yachting and holistic wellness, and besides these, Indians want to try Voluntourism – whether it is planting mangroves, rescuing crabs or simply living with a Northern hill-tribe family in a homestay set-up.  All of these are wonderful even if it is nascent and niche stage right now because these early birds will talk about it to their friends or post pictures/status updates on their Facebook account which will result in many people following in their footsteps.

sheema_vohra_id.jpgSheema Vohra
Managing Director,
Brand USA India

2014 has been a good year for Indian arrivals to the USA. Brand USA India organised a series of educational programmes, ‘DiscoverAmerica’ which was attended by over 1,000 travel agents in major Indian metropolitan and Tier-II cities. The third annual India Mission to Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru witnessed the participation of over 800 travel agents. Last year we also welcomed our President and CEO Christopher Thompson to India, further reinforcing the importance of the growing Indian outbound travel market to the USA. Lastly, earlier in 2014 we also launched the ‘USA Discovery Program’, an online training programme hosted at www.usadiscoveryprogram.in and a culinary guide, ‘Discover America: Great American Food Stories’

We are optimistic about our growth this year. As per the U.S. Department of Commerce, in 2013 India was ranked as the 11th highest Inbound Tourism market for the USA with 859,000 arrivals, an increase of 18.6 per cent over the previous year. From January to August 2014, over 702,031 Indians travelled to the USA, an increase of 10.5 per cent over the same period last year. Our projection for the year 2014 is 962,000 arrivals - an increase of 12 per cent over 2013. We aspire to continuously work at increasing Indian visitor arrivals into the USA by ensuring diverse product offerings and positioning USA as a year-round destination. In addition, our online training programme will definitely help agents to augment existing itineraries and assist them in promoting destinations beyond the gateway cities, incorporating our brand experience pillars, and enhancing visibility and market share.
 
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