India’s iconic Taj Mahal // © 2010 Steve Evans
The India Ministry of Tourism is focused on what lies ahead. In 2011, the ministry and its various tourist offices worldwide will be making a concerted effort to promote tourism to India and to invest in establishing a more extensive and efficient tourism infrastructure.
“India is making massive strides in building up its transportation and tourism infrastructure in the form of highways, airports and a growing number of domestic air connections,” said Sanjiv Vashist, assistant director of the India Tourism Office in Los Angeles.
In particular, Vashist pointed to the addition of the brand-new Terminal 3 at the Delhi airport, which was unveiled in July.
“New Delhi already has a state-of-the-art airport, which is the sixth largest terminal in the world. It also has 78 aerobridges and will handle 34 million passengers annually,” Vashist said. “Another gargantuan airport in Mumbai is slated to come up, possibly by 2014.”
Terminal 3 has 168 check-in counters and 98 immigration counters for international passengers, as well as a 100-room transit hotel. Its brand-new runway can handle up to 75 aircraft per hour. The addition of the new terminal, as well as the unveiling of the Delhi Airport Metro Express line was part of a comprehensive plan to ready New Delhi for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, which took place in October.
Following the successful completion of the Commonwealth Games, the ministry of tourism expects increased visitor numbers to India. According to the ministry, the number of foreign tourists arriving to India in October increased by 9 percent compared to last year’s levels and that number is expected to grow over the next few months.
According to a report from the World Travel and Tourism Council, India will be an increasingly popular travel destination through 2018, with the highest 10-year growth potential of any country. Next September, New Delhi will also play host to the Pacific Asia Travel Association’s Travel Mart 2011.
Vashist said that India Tourism is poised to seize upon the success of its “Incredible India” campaign as well, going into 2011.
Having received the title of “Asia’s Leading Destination” at the recent World Travel Awards ceremony in September, India is also set on building upon its growing reputation as a leading travel destination in Asia.
When it comes to promoting travel to India from the U.S., Vashist said that the Ministry of Tourism and the India Tourism Office in Los Angeles have developed a very strategic and focused plan.
“We have been very focused, and have been targeting demographics that still have the disposable income to travel to long-haul destinations such as India,” he said. “India Tourism, Los Angeles, works and supports all stakeholders in the trade in the U.S. who are promoting India. This office will continue to woo more agents to sell India and assist them in their marketing efforts in the coming years.”
To help agents sell travel to India, Vashist said that agents can expect to see a number of value-added and customizable packages developed within the coming year.
“Our office works within the realms of India’s government to support agents in coming up with new India packages in their products, encouraging them to have joint print promotions and events,” he said. “We will also assist them whenever needed, both in the U.S. and in India, wherever their groups may be.”
The India Ministry of Tourism will also focus on developing health-focused tourism products in 2011, as well as developing other tourism products, according to Vashist.”
“India continues to unveil new products,” Vashist said. “Right now, we are combining holistic and health tourism together to develop a rejuvenation package. For more adventurous clients, rural tourism is another good option. For more laidback travelers, we are encouraging beach tourism, combined with culinary and wildlife excursions.”
The culinary offerings to be found in India, in particular, are one-of-a-kind. Agents can request a cuisine brochure directly from the India Tourism Office in Los Angeles for more information on the varied types of regional specialties and cuisines to be found throughout India.