Global destinations woo Indian outbound tourists

(image) New Delhi: The growing image of Indians as globetrotters has prompted even lesser known economies to show interest in the booming Indian tourism market.
      
Countries such as Tanzania, Philippines and Uzbekistan, which do not figure on the top 10 outbound tourist
destinations for Indians, are now jumping the bandwagon by organising travel shows, offering discount coupons and promoting cultural links.
      
"We want more Indians to visit Philippines. Last year, only 34,800 Indians came to our country. We feel the booming Indian economy can be a boon for our tourism industry," says Glen Agustin, Chief Tourism Operations of Philippines in India.
      
"We are early players in terms of attracting Indians.Though our projections in getting Indian tourists have been met so far, we want the numbers to grow. We plan to extend Visa on Arrival facility for Indian tourists in next six months," he adds.
      
Many such countries are approaching Indian tourism experts to help them to reach out to travelers here and tap the market to the potential.
      
"Around ten countries which are not so popular among Indian outbound tourists have contacted our organization to showcase their tourist potential in front of local consumers," says Sanjiv Agarwal, organiser, Travel and Tourism Fair and Outbound Travel Mart (TTF&OTM).
      
The increasing purchasing power of the Indian middle class along with their willingness to spend on adventures has attracted these countries to approach us, he adds.
      
There is no direct flight from India to Philippines but Philippine Airlines is starting one from Mrach 27 between New Delhi and Manila.
      
The existing indirect connections with long stopovers result in trips lasting 14 to 30 hours. However, with the direct service, travel time will be shortened to just six-and-a half hours.
      
"The cost of traveling to our country will come down after this flight. We expect more than 50 per cent rise in Indian tourists after this," says Agustin.

India is one of the fastest-growing outbound travel markets in the world. World Tourism Organization has predicted that India will account for 50 million outbound tourists by 2020. Singapore, USA, Malaysia, Thailand and Dubai continue to attract Indian tourists.

Seeing the huge potential for future, travel agencies from Tanzania and Uzbekistan are trying to highlight their cultural relations with India and strike a chord with Indian tourists.
      
Tanzania is the second East African economic powerhouse after Kenya and it has already launched a new tourism promotion blitz dubbed – "think Asia" with an eye to diversify its tourist sources.
      
"We started promoting ourself in India last year. There has been 50 per cent increase in Indian tourists coming to our country. Indians are peaceful travelers and spend with open heart," says Lukiza Makubo, marketing manager of ML Tours and Safaris Ltd, Tanzania.
      
He says due to Mahatma Gandhi, Indian culture is very popular in African continent and after global slowdown, its good time to promote Tanzanian tourism in India.
      
"Indian films are very popular in our country. Shah Rukh Khan, Abhishek and Aishwarya are very popular. It would be good to get more Indians to visit our country. Indian government does not issue travel advisories frequently, unlike western countries," says Makubo.
      
A total of 11.07 million Indian tourists visited other countries in 2009. The number is expected to grow and reach 15 million this year.
      
Another country looking to have a share in Indian tourism market is Uzbekistan. The country was formed after disintegration of Soviet Union in 1991, but Indian culture has been very popular there earlier as well.
      
"Three years ago, only 300 Indians visited our country. Last year, it went up to 10,000. Indians do not know much about our country and we are making efforts to promote ourself," says Nargiza, marketing manager of Sogda Tour.
      
"70 per cent Uzbeks watch Indian films and all the Khans are very popular. Its just a three-hour flight from Delhi and a tourist will have a great time visiting our historical cities," she says.