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Thursday, 20 August, 2015, 17 : 30 PM [IST]

Mumbai edition of VisitBritain’s Great Tourism Week 2015 records 300 buyers

The second edition of VisitBritain’s Great Tourism Week (GTW), which started this week from Ahmedabad, was held in Mumbai yesterday. The Mumbai event witnessed participation of 15 suppliers, such as UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI), Tourism Ireland, Globus & Cosmos, Trafalgar Tours, Heathrow Express (Global Destinations), Let's Travel Services Limited, Oceandusk Group, and Cruise Professionals. A total of 300 buyers attended the event in the city.

GTW 2015 is being held in nine cities in groups of three - Ahmedabad, Mumbai, and Pune in the west; Kolkata, Delhi, and Lucknow in the east and north; and Chennai, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad in the south. It will conclude on September 18.

Talking about GTW, Shivali Suri, Country Manager - VisitBritain India, stated, “Opportunities such as GTW are platforms to interact with the B2B, introduce new products and new experiences to clients. We also have suppliers who have entered the market for the first time this year, so we have fresher, newer products. A lot of the suppliers that we are dealing with have offices in India, which makes it a lot easier and faster, rather than dealing with someone in the UK, which brings in the time difference.”

Suri went on to say, “India is the top BRIC market for Britain in terms of volume and we are well on our way to achieve our 2020 target of 500,000 visits. Our trade engagement in India is crucial for us to deliver our tourism targets.”

According to official data, last year, Britain received a record 390,000 Indian visitors who spent a record GBP 444 million. This is against the 373,000 visitor numbers with a GBP 439-million spend in 2013.

Giving his views on events like GTW, Kumar Iyer, British Deputy High Commissioner Mumbai & Director General UK Trade and Investment India, stated, “What we do here is really important, not just because of the direct, commercial value of tourism to the UK and to India, but also because we want to bring two sets of people closer together; we want to bring two nations together. If we want any chance of doing that, we need people from one country visiting another and vice versa. We need people to understand each other’s culture, art, cinema, and food.”

Talking further about the UK visa processing for Indian applicants, Iyer informed, “India is the largest centre in the world for the UK in terms of visa processing. Last year we processed half-a-million visas in India. Nine out of ten applicants got their visas. Ninety-eight per cent of the visas were processed within the 15-day deadline.”

Talking about the revamped BritAgent programme, Shuja-Bin-Mehdi, B2B Executive - North & East India, VisitBritain, said that the programme now includes new modules, one of them being the UK Visa module. The programme has received good response from Indian travel agents, with more than 900 having qualified as specialists out of the 2,500 who registered, ever since the programme’s introduction five years ago, he said.

VisitBritain has also come up with the, which is a B2B as well as B2C portal that showcases 120 attractions across the UK that travellers can visit, informed Mehdi. BritAgent programme-certified agents receive a code for an 8 per cent discount on sale of any of the attractions on the portal, he added. He also informed that a feature that has been introduced on the portal is geotagging. With the feature, travellers can opt for BritAgent programme-certified agents near their locality for planning their travel itinerary, he informed.

Chetan G Punjani, General Manager - GCC, Oceandusk Group
We are a 23-year-old, UK-based company. This is our first foray into the Indian market and our first time at GTW. Until recently we were focusing on traveller segments in the UAE that were looking to visit the UK. The company caters to the high-end segments, offering itineraries for FITs and VIP travellers with accommodation in four- or five-star hotels. Therefore, since earlier the scope for such bookings was not too much in India, the company was not catering to the traveller segments here. However, now, we see potential in the new-generation travellers who are keen to explore and experience luxurious and high-end holidays.

Abira Sinha, Regional Sales Manager - India, Globus & Cosmos
We have offerings in the budget and first-class segments, with 34 vacations throughout the year to Great Britain and Ireland. The duration of the holidays we offer ranges from 6-25 days. India is undoubtedly a high-potential market for the UK. Moreover, with the Britain Irish Visa Scheme being effected, there has been a noted impact on tourist footfalls from India.

Prithul Lochan, Vice President India - Sales & Marketing, Lets Travel Services Limited of UK
We are participating for the first time at GTW. We are a 15-year-old B2B company, with offices in Beijing and Shanghai in China, apart from the UK. We opened our first office in India in Ahmedabad last month. We offer FIT, MICE, and luxury travel, and fixed group departures to UK, Europe, Egypt, South Africa, Turkey, China, Cambodia, and Laos. Our target audience is the travel agents, and we see great scope in the Indian market for this company. We will launch a software for the B2B clients in two months.

Nema Reshamvala, Global Destinations (Heathrow Express)
The trend in the Indian market is changing with the increasing number of youth travellers visiting the UK. The Heathrow Express is a popular transport system among all segments for its cost-effectiveness, and the fact that it takes just 15 minutes to reach from Heathrow airport to London. Moreover, what’s attractive is that children up to 15 years of age can travel for free on this railway.

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