Indian Tourism Links Strengthened

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I have just returned from a work trip to Singapore and India.  We took in 5 cities in 12 days so it was rather a hectic trip.  The purpose of the visit was to attend Kiwi Link India and Frontline training in Singapore.  Kiwi Link is a trade training event organised by Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) providing the New Zealand tourism industry with a unique opportunity to establish contacts and educate staff from wholesale and retail travel companies and airlines selling New Zealand throughout India.  Destination Fiordland attended as part of the Southern Lakes International Marketing Alliance (IMA) responsible for promoting the Southern Lakes region in the long-haul market.

So what is involved?  The frontline training involved presenting to groups of frontline sales staff from Travel Agents based in Singapore – there were 11 such groups of up to 10 agents over the day.  This was followed by a travel day to India.  We landed in Chennai and this is the point at which I was able to meet the rest of the Kiwi Link group.  There were a total of 33 of us travelling together around the cities in India and Tourism New Zealand did a marvellous job at getting us all from A to B by bus, plane and car without too many hitches.  The other Kiwis there were from various operators such as AJ Hackett bungy, NZone, Real Journeys, Southern Discoveries, Skydive Wanaka – to name a few.  Each day we had 33 appointments – one day in Chennai, one day in Hyderabad, two days in Mumbai and two days in Delhi. So that was 198 meetings reaching approximately 600 individuals from 200 companies.  Alot of talking!!  In between the appointment days we travelled and in Mumbai and New Delhi we attended networking functions to which Senior Managers from the travel companies were invited.

Indian arrivals into New Zealand are steadily growing on the back of a relatively small investment from TNZ.  The market also has a preference to travel in our Autumn and Spring shoulder months making India an important market for offsetting seasonality.   The forthcoming Cricket World Cup in 2015 with New Zealand as a host country provides a window of opportunity to encourage media and visitors to NZ for what will be a major event.  This event has been a catalyst for stepping up the priority and investment given to India in the lead-in years.  The World Tourism Organisation estimates about 50 million Indians will be taking overseas holidays each year by 2020 (source: Financial Times). With over 28 million passport holders in the country who are potential travellers, the source market for outbound travel is wide and complex because of its size and variety.  The Indian outbound travel market is expected to be $35-$40 billion over the next five years from the current $12 billion, buoyed by a rapidly growing organised tourism market

This was my first visit to India and the first Kiwi Link event I have attended.  I must say that our region was not difficult to sell – everyone had smiles on their faces when I introduced the 3 beautiful locations of Fiordland, Wanaka and Queenstown and most were very familiar with the area.  They all love Fiordland and laughed at the population size of Te Anau – saying that there were more people living in their apartment building than in the Te Anau basin!  With a population of 1.2 billion the idea of being somewhere totally alone is hard for an Indian person to understand and something which we probably take for granted here in Fiordland.

I loved India – it is a country of stark contrasts and this was very apparent during our travels from the airports into the main centres by bus.  We saw slums, identifiable by the blue taupaulin roofs, amazing apartment buildings, camels, monkeys, cows and water buffalo in the streets, carts piled high with produce and colour everywhere.  I did manage a little sightseeing other than the inside of airports and hotels.  The markets were amazing and I should have taken an extra suitcase for all the wonderful things I could have bought.   No trip to India would be complete without seeing the Taj Mahal.  A group of us added an extra day at the end and made the 3 hour journey by train from Delhi to Agra to visit this magnificent monument and the 4.5 hour bus journey back to Delhi.  It certainly lived up to expectations and we enjoyed the day despite temperatures around 90°C and 90% humidity!   I was impressed with the service, the smiles and the colour of India but for me the highlight was definitely the food…yum!  If I am lucky enough to return one day I shall definitely be doing a food and cooking tour!