"Incredible India" shines at travel show
8 March 2007, Berlin (dpa) - Having surged into the frontline of international tourism in recent years, it is India that takes centre stage at the 2007 ITB (International Tourism Bourse), which got away to a lively start in Berlin Wednesday and runs until the weekend. India has arrived with a bang, with promotion experts talking of a 78 per cent increase in tourism volume over the past five years, and a 15 per cent growth in in-bound travel since 2002. Its pavilion, located in the heart of the sprawling Fu
8 March 2007
Berlin (dpa) - Having surged into the frontline of international tourism in recent years, it is India that takes centre stage at the 2007 ITB (International Tourism Bourse), which got away to a lively start in Berlin Wednesday and runs until the weekend.
India has arrived with a bang, with promotion experts talking of a 78 per cent increase in tourism volume over the past five years, and a 15 per cent growth in in-bound travel since 2002.
Its pavilion, located in the heart of the sprawling Funkturm Exhibition Grounds, exudes India's new-found tourism confidence, and is emblazoned by its branding and promotion campaign - "Incredible India."
The ITB, thought to be the world's largest travel and trade show, has always been popular with participating Asian countries, but this year it is almost bursting at the seams, with a record 10,856 organisations and companies competing with one another in an 160,000 square-metre-sized exhibition area.
As the ITB's "Partner Country" it was India, hardly surprisingly, that was given the honour of hosting the show's spectacular opening ceremony, illustrating the nation's rich textile craft heritage in contemporary terms.
Masterminding the show, which was backed up by a series of classical and folk dance forms, was Ritu Kumar, one of India's leading fashion designers.
The choice of India as the ITB partner country has been hailed in Berlin by the nation's tourism minister, Ambika Soni, who said it was a reflection of the "rising interest of global travellers towards India."
"Significantly, ITB Berlin marks a major milestone in a rigorous growth process, and recognises the emergence of India as a truly major destination in the world," she claimed.
Tourism chiefs attribute the visitor explosion to several factors - including its "Incredible India" marketing campaign and the success of Bollywood films in Europe, especially in Germany - a fact recognised at the recent Berlin movie festival when a film "cooperation agreement" was signed by ministers of the two nations.
India's diversity of regional destinations helps attract a soaring number of visitors - with the Taj Mahal, Rajasthan, Goa, Himalayan treks, wellness breaks and beach holidays all acting as continuing tourist attractions.
In 2005, India attracted 3.9 million international visitors. Last year the figure increased to a record 4.4 million, causing the World Travel and Tourism Council to label India the "world's fastest- growing destination."
With 130,000 visitors, Germany has become an increasingly important source market for India and now ranks sixth after the UK, the US, Canada, France and Sri Lanka. India is also an increasingly important outbound market.
PATA, the Pacific Asia Travel Association, in a recent study reported that Indian residents made 8.3 million international trips and 430 million domestic trips last year.
Nearly three million of them were within Asia Pacific - making India the region's fourth largest source market behind China, Japan and Korea.
"Tourism is such a big industry in India right now," says West Bengal's Tourism Minister who was in Berlin for the ITB. "It's not exactly surprising. After all we have so much to offer in terms of wild life, beauty of terrain, and sheer diversity."
MJ Robertson, the director and chief executive of the Vedic Village, a spa resort in Kolkata, talked of a huge number of "medical tourists" arriving in India every year.
"We have trained doctors, top gold medallists in their field, able to help in many areas - Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, and chronic stomach disorders. They (the doctors) have helped boost tourism, making people happy to come to Kolkata for treatment," he said.
Raj Basu, the secretary general of the India-Bhutan Friendship Association (IBFA), said in Berlin much of his work in India was involved in promoting tourism in the region.
"German visitors increase, he said, noting that numerous researchers were among them. "They find a lot of interesting work to do in the east Himalayan region."
Subject: German news