State of California to boost travel and trade ties with India

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Eleni Kounalakis, the lieutenant governor of California, who is visiting India along with the Bay Area Business  Council, said with a significant number of Indian technology professionals in the Bay Area, the potential for growth through investment and partnership in the tech sector between the two countries is enormous.

The state of California in the US is looking at boosting trade ties with India and wants more foreign direct investment (FDI) from the country and more Indian visitors through tie ups with industries like Bollywood, besides a greater share of California’s exports coming into the country, said Eleni Kounalakis, the lieutenant governor of California on a visit to India.

Kounalakis was visiting India along with the Bay Area Business Council comprising of key business people from the aviation, finance and consulting, hospitality, and information technology industries. She said with a significant number of Indian technology professionals in the Bay Area, the potential for growth through investment and partnership in the tech sector between the two countries is enormous.

“Right now, India is California’s 13th largest trade partner and we are looking for ways through which the government can help and lead to support and improve the trade relationships. There is such a strong culture of innovation in California and India and this is a very natural area of cooperation that has a tremendous potential for growth. We are looking for more connectivity, more trade relationships, more exports of California goods into India and more FDI from India into California,” said  Kounalakis.  

“But there are other historic trade elements that we value and we are very sentimental about. Almond trade is a very special part of the relationship and we want to make sure that we can continue to support the export of almonds into India which is the largest international destination for California almonds,” she added.

Earlier, Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California who was accompanying Kounalakis said the state views India as the number one opportunity market.

“We see the Indian market as our number one opportunity market. We are getting about 353,000 Indian visitors currently who are spending about $ 1.2 billion. We are estimating by 2023 that number will rise to about $1.5 billion. We have a lot of headroom for this market with a projected 40 million Indians travelling outside of India every year. We see huge opportunities,” Beteta said.
While millennial travellers are the target segment for Visit California globally, Beteta said that they will make all efforts to lure the luxury market to California in the next five years.  She cited the presence of CEOs of destinations like Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood in the sales mission to underscore the same. “We expect the luxury market to grow 70% in the next five years,” she stated. Visit California launched a social media campaign, “Now it is time for California’, as part of the messaging that the destination promoters want to send out that it understands the Indian market better than anyone else.

During the visit, the delegation also unveiled some filming incentives in California which were presented to the Producers Guild of India and other film professionals in New Delhi. This was in line with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Visit California and the Producers Guild of India, to facilitate film, television and new media content shoots in California.