Eastern European countries woo Indian tourists


NEW DELHI, India – The intrepid Indian traveler is being wooed by the global travel industry. With 30 million Indians expected to travel across the globe by 2018, tourism boards and destination management companies are leaving nothing to chance. At the South Asia Travel and Tourism Exchange (SATTE) 2016, currently being held in the capital, the number of exhibitors has increased from less than 700 last year to over 750 this year. New entrants include countries like Romania, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Iceland who are keen to enter the Indian market.

The top destinations for Indians remain Dubai and South-East Asia registering higher number Indian tourists this year. For instance, Dubai has registered a 26 per cent increase with 1.6 million Indians visiting the country in 2015. Singapore similarly registered 1 million Indian visitors with a 7 per cent year-on-year growth.

Representing a conglomerate of 11 companies from Iceland, Valgerdur Lindberg Jonsd said, “The recent Shah Rukh Khan film Dilwale has helped us a lot in creating awareness about Iceland. We recognize India as a huge untapped market and we would like to be the pioneers.”

Saying that the response so far has been better than what she expected, she added, “In a roadshow in Mumbai, I spoke to nearly 800 people in a day. I can see the same interest in Delhi as well.”

UBM managing director Yogesh Mudras, organiser of SATTE, said that interest among Indians to travel overseas and explore new destinations and adventures has increased steadily.

“We had 10,000 visitors last year. This year we already have 15,000 pre-registered visitors while our exhibitors have increased from less than 700 last year to over 750 this year,” he said.

Romania, which is also a first-time entrant, along with other east European countries, also hopes to draw Indians who might be first-time travellers and cannot afford western Europe or the US. “We offer a 7-day trip for a person in just 1000 euros. The traveller can experience Europe at a discount,” says Cecilia Enache from Viadora Travel.

The company also plans to tap tourists who are well-travelled and would like to experience something new.

A recent UNWTO Visa Openness Report 2015 points out, “When comparing data between 2015 and 2008 for some of the fast growing outbound markets, such as China, India and the Russian Federation, it becomes clear that destinations continue to make special efforts to facilitate visa formalities for tourists originating from these economies.”

As a direct consequence, India’s mobility score has increased from 32 in 2008 to 50 in 2015 suggesting that more and more countries are laying down the red carpet.