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Friday, 07 February, 2020, 22 : 51 PM [IST]

Slovak Republic begins multiple level engagement in India market to boost travel and tourism

Bratislava Airport starts talks with Indian carriers; SACKA and OTOAI sign MoU; Film Commission to visit India later this year
The Central European Republic of Slovakia as part of taking its tourism related marketing and promotions to the next level in the India market has begun its trade and industry engagement in the right earnest. In a first major step to bring together the tourism trade and industry on either side agree and partner each other to promote the destination, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Slovak Association of Tour Operators and Travel Agents (SACKA) and Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI) here in Delhi early this week.

 The MoU was signed between Roman Berkes, President, SACKA and Riyaz Munshi, President, OTOAI in the presence of Ivan Lancaric, Ambassador of Slovak Republic in New Delhi. 

In another related development, top officials of Bratislava Airport met representatives of the leading Indian carriers like Vistara, IndiGo and SpiceJet to explore business opportunities for direct connectivity between India and Slovak Republic. 

Slovakia has started tourism promotions in India in last March and established Slovak Visa centres in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore in partnership with VFS Global as well prior or to that. There has been 65% growth in Indian visitations to Slovakia between March and August 2019.

 “We have witnessed visible results of our efforts. We want to continue with our engagement in the market,” said Ambassador Lancaric, addressing the media. The Ambassador said that the Foreign department of the Slovak government has been supportive with adequate resources to process the visa applications smoothly and quickly. “The processing time for Slovak visas is less than four days,” he said. Slovakia is part of the Schengen region. 

Talking about Slovak tourism offerings, the Ambassador said that the country has several heritage sites, lush green forests, and beautiful mountains to fulfil the expectations of most demanding of travellers. 

 “We had informal meetings with Indian airline companies at various industry forums in the past. Now we want to go into direct business talks with them on direct connectivity,” said Radek Zabransky, Director – Aviation & Strategic Marketing, Bratislava Airport. He said that they have meetings scheduled with representatives of Vistara, IndiGo and SpiceJet in this connection. He said that the idea is to complement activities on the tourism development with direct access. “Bratislava Airport is a small airport with all the modern facilities. It handled 2.3 million passengers last year,” he said.  

Speaking on the occasion, Munshi said that while all neighbouring countries of the region are benefiting out of Indian outbound travel, there is no reason Slovakia with its natural beauty and rich heritage cannot appeal to Indian tourists. He said that OTOAI will try and build awareness about Slovakia in India. 

Giving the whole event a Bollywood twist, Sameer M Upadhyay, Line Producer of Bollywood movie, CHEHRE, who recently completed the shooting of the movie in the High Tatra mountains in Slovakia, said that they have been able to finish their project with extreme ease as permissions were easy to get in Slovakia. Even they were able to shoot in the National Park with a single permission, when in India they require 55 different licences. “People are so calm, cool and helpful,” he added.

 Slovakia offers attractive incentives for film producers. The government reimburses 33% of the production cost, Upadhyay informed. He said that he will be going again in summer to Slovakia for another project.  

Slovak Embassy has plans to invite the Film Commission of Slovakia for more engagement with Indian production houses later this year. 

Although Slovakia is not directly connected with India, the capital city Bratislava is at a driving distance from other capitals of the region like Vienna (Austria), Budapest (Hungary) and Prague (Czech Republic). Slovakia has more than 200 medieval castles and over 400 chateaux. The country is famous for agro-tourism, spas and wellness, sports and adventure, etc.
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