DELHI: With India being the official premier partner country for World Travel Mart (WTM) 2016 in London this year, it is set to have its biggest ever presence at the event. WTM is scheduled for between November 7 and 9 at ExCeL London. Buyers from the WTM Buyers’ Club have a combined purchasing responsibility of $22.6 billion (£15.8bn) and have been know to sign deals at the event worth $3.6 billion (£2.5bn) in the past.
WTM 2016 date: Nov 7-9
WTM Buyers Purchasing Power: $22.6 bn
Premier Partner country WTM 2016: India
The Indian Government is aiming to get more than 13 million visitors a year by 2020. Currently, the country is experiencing a 10% annual growth in foreign tourist arrivals this year taking visitor numbers to a projected nine million in 2016. It has invested more than $300m (US Dollars) on developing its tourism infrastructure in the last 18 months as per a press release.
Over 50 Indian private companies and 25 State Tourism Boards have confirmed their participation in the event said the Ministry of Tourism. These will be both within and outside the Incredible India pavilion that will be spread across an area of 650 sq mtr. The theme for India pavilion is ‘India: The Eternal Heritage’. A delegation comprising Union Tourism & Culture Minister, Mahesh Sharma, Tourism Secretary, Joint Secretary and Additional Director General – Tourism are expected to be in London during the three-day event.
Also as part of the event, there will be a special session on Incredible India at WTM. The country will also be represented at UNWTO and WTTC hosted round table conferences. These will be Ministerial summit-level meeting on ‘Tourism and Security: Promoting safe and seamless travel’, organised jointly by UNWTO and WTM. The conference will discuss major safety and security challenges facing the tourism sector and ways of addressing them.
Secretary, Tourism Vinod Zutshi said, that the Tourism Ministry is “all set for a big event” at London with highest participation. “Incredible India will be all over this year at WTM as we are the official premium partner country.” Zutshi had earlier said, “There is an ever-increasing amount of new and exciting products to educate the world’s leading buyers about. WTM London is an event when the Indian tourism stakeholders get to meet the world’s buyers and sign business agreements. The Ministry of Tourism and the Indian exhibitors look forward to a very successful WTM London 2016.”
India at WTM
At the WTM, India’s Ministry of Tourism is looking at speaking with WTM Buyers’ Club members from key source markets like the US, UK, China, Australia, France, Germany, Canada and Spain as well as the growing markets of South East Asia, the Middle East and Russia.
The key to India’s strategy will be a focus on promoting a variety of products including heritage, cultural, rural, wellness, medical, adventure, and golf. India boasts 32 World Heritage sites including Islamic, Christian, Buddhist and Hindu religious sites. It will promote them alongside its most popular destinations; The Golden Triangle (Delhi, Agra and Jaipur), Rajasthan, Goa, Kerala, Kashmir and North East.
A special focus will be put on coastal and beach tourism, cruise and eco-tourism. North East India – Assam, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura and Mizoram will get a dedicated focus as part of India’s eco-tourism push. The North East of the country is described as “Paradise Unexplored” with the Government investing huge money in developing tourism infrastructure along with improved connectivity. An airport in Sikkim shall be operational shortly.
The Government is also trying to develop world class infrastructure at pristine beaches on the West Coast of the country between Mumbai and Kerala and alongside East Coast from Rameshwaram to Visakhapatnam.
Further, India is also developing state of the art cruise passenger terminals to make India a central hub for the global cruise industry. The de-boarding process has been dramatically sped up to improve the customer experience. Costa Cruises recently announced the launch of a cruise itinerary from Mumbai to the Maldives.
Musafir Namah Bureau