Visas, Connectivity, and Collaborations key issues discussed
Visas, Connectivity, and Collaborations were the main discussion points at the maiden Outbound Tourism Summit organized by FICCI recently.
The well-attended Tourism Summit had participation from the representatives of diplomatic missions from Germany, Vietnam, Peru, Cuba, Bosnia, and Herzegovina besides the travel and tourism professionals. On this occasion, the FICCI-Nangia Andersen Knowledge paper on Outbound Tourism trends was also released.
In his opening address Ankush Nijhawan, Chairman, FICCI Outbound Tourism Committee and Co-Founder TBO.com & Managing Director Nijhawan Group said that while the mood in the tourism industry is positive and the Indian travel and tour operators have recorded excellent business in the past few months, the revival in tourism is behind us now, “let’s talk about growth and how the opportunity will unfold”. More pragmatic in his presentation, he added Market has come back faster than what the experts had thought”, he said about the recovery in global tourism.
“When we see all these pieces of baggage being lost at Heathrow, check-in issues at Europe, challenge with Visa, it is because we never realized how quickly the market will recover. All this is due to post-pandemic and changing lifestyles, double-income households leading to higher disposable income, access to information and appeal of offbeat tourism, and not to forget Buy- Now- Pay – Later, as plausible reasons for the sharp rise in demand to travel.
Citing global tourism trends, Ankush Nijhawan said that between Fiscal years 16-19, there were more than 1.5 trillion outbound trips, and 135 destinations received more than a million arrivals. the size of the market can be realised from the fact that tourists spent USD 9 trillion in 2019. Hence the market grew by about 5 percent from 2016 and is expected to have USD 11.5 trillion to be spent in fiscal year 24, he mentioned.
Mrs. Jyotsna Suri Past President FICCI, Chairperson, FICCI Travel and Tourism and Hospitality Committee, and CMD of the Lalit Suri Hospitality Group in her address said “we survived this entire pandemic on domestic tourism, But that is not sufficient. We have to have a healthy inbound and outbound to be a complete tourism destination,”. There were almost 27 million Indians who traveled outside of India which is double the tourists that came to India.”
A FICCI- Nangia Andersen Knowledge Paper on Outbound Tourism was released during this session. The report says that the Indian outbound travel market has recovered strongly from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and that the total value of the market is likely to reach USD 42 billion by end of 2024.
The report further states that with India remaining one of the fastest growing economies in the world and with over 80 million passport-holders in India, the outbound sector growth is likely to continue for years to come. A growing population that is mainly young and has a rising level of purchasing power, especially amongst the middle class, the outbound tourism from India is set to record exponential growth, especially as Indians begin to incorporate travel in their lifestyle.
Mr. Rajan Sehgal, Co-Founder Passionals, President of Indian Golf Tourism Association, and Member MANAS under the aegis of the Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India moderated the event.
In his address, Stephan Hesselmann, Minister Counsellor, Deputy Head, Department of Economic and Global Affairs, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany said that tourism is a source for creating business opportunities. On the recently launched free trade negotiations between the EU and India, he said, ‘‘We want to increase our economic relations, and tourism is one significant economic factor.’’ He referred to the huge demand for German visa at the moment, saying it was impossible to get a visa in the short term and travellers should apply early enough for their travels.
Cuban Ambassador Alejandro Simancas Marin spoke of numerous investment opportunities in the Cuban tourism sector. ‘‘Cuban tourism sector is open to foreign investment and the Cuban Ministry of Tourism has a portfolio of 176 different products that are offered for foreign investment,’’ Marin said. However, he averred that not many Indians visited Cuba, citing a lack of direct flights between Indian cities and Cuban cities as a possible reason. He announced that it plans to invest more than 3 Billion USD in the tourism sector with a focus on infrastructure. India is the key market for Cuba
Pham Sanh Chau, Ambassador Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam informed that the number of visas issued to Indians has grown 24 times, compared to pre covid. He said that Vietnam issued around 250 visas per day before the pandemic and post-pandemic 6000 visas have been issued per day until a day before the event. The ambassador announced that the country is opening more direct flights, keeping into account the rising popularity of Vietnam among Indians owing to new experience, proximity, and ease of travel. Soon there will be 17 direct flights between major cities of India and Vietnam.
Ambassador, Embassy of Bosnia & Herzegovina, Muhamed Cengic spoke of experiential travel. ‘‘Bosnia has more waterfalls than France and Spain combined,’’ Cengic said. He added that he was aware that Bosnia was not much known among Indian tourists. ‘‘However, it is part of the Balkans, which is becoming popular among Indian tourists. If you are travelling to the Balkans, you travel to at least three countries that are very diverse, by nature, by culture, by history,’’ Cengic added.