U. S. travel and tourism earnings have dipped so badly since 9/ 11 that President Obama has had to flag off an initiative to get tourists back. India is a major target market of this effort. When America turned itself into an impregnable fortress in the aftermath of the 9/ 11 terror attacks, what really took a drubbing was its travel and tourism business. A report released last year by the U. S. Travel Association, the national organisation of the American travel and tourism sector, showed that the industry lost around $606 billion potential earnings since the attacks in 2001. America’s share of the global travel market too dropped from 17 per cent in 2000 to 12.4 per cent in 2010 at a time when global long- haul travel actually grew by 40 per cent. America has forgotten to promote tourism after 9/11,” the U. S. Embassy’s Minister Counsellor for Consular Affairs, Jim Herman, said on the sidelines Visit USA, a travel and tourism industry seminar organised by the embassy New Delhi last week. Visitors are good for the economy and they improve people to people contact,” he added.
The oddity of promoting America, a place synonymous with higher studies (104,000 Indians are at present studying in the U. S., and their numbers are next only to that of China) and H1B work visas, as a tourist destination to Indian travellers notwithstanding, the seminar highlighted the seriousness with which the embassy was taking its tourism promotion initiatives in India. As a part of the initiative, the Commercial Service wing of the embassy has now revived the Visit USA Committee (VUSACOM), which became defunct in 2005, to promote travel to the U. S.
The committee was originally launched in 2003. Comprising representatives from airlines, travel agents, tour operators, hotels and destination management companies, the committee has set for itself the target of marketing U. S. destinations and attractions across India. Places such as San Francisco, Chicago and Las Vegas still retain their attraction for Indian travellers, but it is New York City that is at the top. “We are keen on attracting MICE (Meetings Incentives Conferences and Exhibitions) travellers by offering them theme- based venues such as water taxi cruises and garden settings for meetings in New York,” VUSACOM President and Executive Chairman, Mercury Travels, Ashwini Kakkar said. “Indian visitors to the U. S are now in the 13th position; we want to hit the ninth spot in the next nine to 18 months,” said Kakkar. The water taxis with a seating capacity of 74 to 149 passengers per boat operate along the New York Harbor and East River, and they offer breathtaking close- up views of the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline. The vessels equipped with refrigerators, microwave oven, coffee vending machines and even luxury bars were launched in 2002. Another attraction on top of VUSACOM’s must- promote list is the New York Botanical Garden, which is spread across 250 acres in the Bronx Park and is home to one of the world’s leading plant laboratories. It conducts exhibitions and flower shows throughout the year, drawing over 800,000 visitors annually. “Travel and tourism is an important way for us to expand our cultural and commercial ties and increase trade growth between our countries,” U. S. Ambassador Nancy J. Powell said at the inauguration of the seminar.
U. S. Embassy figure shows that 660,000 Indian visitors travelled to America last year. Their number is expected to cross the one million mark by 2015. And they collectively spent $ 4.6 billion in 2011, up by 15 per cent from the previous year’s level. “The important aspect of travel and tourism is not dollar figures, but the relationships that are cultivated,” Powell said. It is a message that her consular team across the country has taken quiet seriously in the last five years. Nearly 97 per cent of visas are now processed within 24 hours, with the majority of visa applicants receiving 10- year, multiple- entry visas, according to consular officials. “We are also planning to reach out to people whose visas are about to expire,” Minister Counsellor Herman said. With America going all-out to woo the outbound Indian, be prepared to see the number of Indian travellers bound for Destination USA rise steadily toward the magic figure of one million in 2015. The number of outbound Indian travellers to the U. S. is expected to cross the one million mark by 2015.
Mumbai, May 23 -- The news around spot-fixing allegations in the sixth season of the T20 League has left a wave of cold breath on the stocks of India Cements.Analysts say the company is caught in the midst of a double jeopardy of poor show of its March-quarter results announced on Monday and the possible links to the match fixing in the T20.Since Monday, after the news on match fixing surfaced and the company announced its quarter results, the Indian Cements stocks have tanked 17% at the Bombay