With a view to increase Indian visitation to the country, Brand USA, the tourism marketing entity responsible for promoting the United States as a premier travel destination, organised its second sales mission to India recently. Participants included 41 delegates, representing 30 organizations from U.S. destinations, attractions, hotels and destination management companies. The group also held buyer-seller meetings in Mumbai and New Delhi.
On the sidelines of conclusion of the mission, India Tourism Review’s Deepti Tyagi spoke to some of the members of the delegation to learn about their expectations from the mission and the response they received from the Indian travel trade.
Jay Gray, Vice President, Global Partnership Development, Brand USA
The response has been phenomenal. Industry is very supportive and turnout has been overwhelming. Since we started our activities in India in the year 2012 we have recorded an annual growth of around 9.2% in the number of visitors to the country. In the first quarter, we witnessed a growth of 14.7%. We are expecting a million Indian visitors in 2015.
Despite devaluation of rupee against dollar the overall demand is incredibly high. People may be adjusting with the duration of the stay or the accommodation levels but we don’t see any cancellations. In future, we also plan to tap the Tier II and III cities for MICE movement into the country.
Santiago C. Corrada, President & CEO, Visit Tampa Bay
The second mission has been very successful. We are focused on Brand USA as well as the upcoming IIFA awards that the city will host with IIFA Wizcraft. We also interacted with media in Delhi and Mumbai. The mission has also helped us connect with the business side of the entertainment industry apart from travel operators and promoters. We want to make sure that the destination is promoted well.
We want to become India’s favorite American city and we want to be the entry gate and the bridge between India and America. We have shifted from a not so well known destination to the city that will have power of IIFA behind it which will further position it as an internationally recognized destination. We expect IIFA to change our relationship with India and the world dramatically because of the power that they have. The working relationship is already very strong and we expect it strengthen further.
Lilly Kimmelshue, Marketing Manager, Europe & India, Visit California
California is a premier destination in the United States. We are pleased to participate in Brand USA’s India Mission. India is among the fastest growing travel markets for California with the projection of 208, 000 visitors from India in 2012, up 7% over 2011. The city expects 38% growth between 2012 and 2016.
The mission provides a positive platform to highlight the strengths of California’s tourism industry, to exchange ideas and re-establish our relationships with the Indian travel community. Visit California has been regularly conducting various coop and outreach programs with the travel trade, consumers and media in India’s Tier I and Tier II cities. Additionally, we also run an online training programme “California Expert” introduced for educating frontline staff of travel agencies.
Alex Philby, Director, International Leisure Sales, Caesars Entertainment
Our experience so far has been wonderful and we have full faith that the Indian market will do extremely well for us in the year 2014. Since last year we have recorded a humongous increase in the number of room nights i.e. from 1600 to 6000.
From nowhere to be on the list of an Indian travellers’s itiniery, Las Vegas has gained an important position for itself in last few years. Seeing the growing interest of the travellers, we plan to participate more often in India. Brand USA gives us a good opportunity to be able to promote ourselves and educate Indian travel trade about our products and offerings.
Makiko Matsuda Healy, Vice President, Tourism Development, NYC & Company
The response from the Indian travel trade in Mumbai and Delhi has been great. The second mission gave us an opportunity to address to those questions from the travel trade in India which are beyond what they already know about the destination and gets more exploratory to stretch beyond the set itineraries they have been selling so far.
This year we have collaborated with Broadway Collections, Madame Tussauds, Empire State Building Observatory and New York Water Taxi. So this year we are showcasing many attractions from New York City. Through this event we are expecting city growth.
Brand USA gives each one of us an opportunity to sell ourselves as a single destination which would further promote the country as a whole among Indian travel trade partners.
Norbert Simon, Senior Market Manager, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
We are here to showcase and make the Indian travel trade aware of our products which hold a lot of relevance for the Indian travellers. Recent few years witnessed increasing number of Indian travellers visiting our parks and enjoying the thrill of rides and exciting shows.
Brand USA second mission has helped us to see how the market is developing and wish to encourage it to grow. This mission is about creating and maintaining relationship and to make sure that we gain good business through established contacts. We will also carry a proper follow up after this to make sure that this happens. Also the interest has been very strong and we are very optimistic that this event will be a success for us. India holds a great potential for the US.
Devon Dow, Manager, Travel Trade – Asia, Brand USA
The second mission to India has been really great. We have had a very good turnout with the Indian market. The event witnessed participation of around 500 buyers from Mumbai and Delhi. We are hoping that we will be bringing a lot of new partners in the market. There are heightened levels of interest from the Indian market. Further we are expecting huge growth. Since, it is an emerging market for the US it holds a lot of potential.