Middle East keen to tap Indian tourism market

Leading Middle East aviation, travel companies and government agencies will take part in World Travel India (WTI) the international travel trade exhibition and conference in Mumbai next February.

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By  Rhys Jones Published  November 30, 2003

Leading Middle East aviation, travel companies and government agencies will take part in World Travel India (WTI) the international travel trade exhibition and conference in Mumbai next February.

There is great interest in WTI among Middle East exhibitors with Qatar Airways taking part in a bid to exploit the substantial potential in reciprocal tourism and to challenge India's aviation policies.

Another Middle East exhibitor is the government of Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing which is keen to develop the Indian market and has signed up for a substantial presence at the WTI show.

''The annual Dubai Shopping Festival and Dubai Summer Surprises have proven to be highly successful strategies in attracting tourists from India,'' says Richard Gayle, project manager, WTI.

Gulf Air could also be looking to promote its services in the Indian travel market too. The launch in May of Gulf Traveller, the budget airline, will be something the airline will concentrate on between India, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.

''It is not surprising at a time when government statistics indicate that tourism generated 2.5 billion dollar in foreign exchange earnings in the year up to September, up 20 per cent last year. Inbound tourism grew by around 15 per cent with 1.864 million visitors, all positive signs that the sleeping tiger of south west Asia is truly on course for roaring tourism market,'' says Gayle.

Apart from the burgeoning outbound sector, the success of the WTI will also relate to the country's vast domestic travel market. Indian tourists have traditionally holidayed within the country where around 234 million domestic trips are taken every year.

This is another reason why the national tourism marketing boards of states such as Kerala and Goa will be highly visible at the show.

A travel conference will run parallel to the exhibition at the same venue. Keynote speakers include the president of the international Hotels and Restaurant Association, Eric Pfeffer, the CEO of Qatar Airways, Akbar Al Baker and Ian Graham, the former director of business consulting for Deloitte Touche.

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