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Decoding India opportunity

October 6, 2018 Headline News No Comments

India’s fast economic and demographic growth makes it attractive for many new countries to partner with it for tourism as well as trade and entertainment. Global Tourism council (GTC)’s first convention in Egypt tried to decipher key opportunities for new destinations to reap mutual benefit with India.

Rajiv Duggal, Vice Council, GTC, said: “There’s lots happening in Indian aviation. Until a few years ago, Air India used to fly across the globe. Open sky policy has opened up opportunity for other international and Indian private airlines to fill the void created by the national carrier. Airport infrastructure continues to improve. 37 Indian sea ports are awaiting cruise ships to dock.”

India’s commercial capital Mumbai will have a new Greenfield airport in two years time so will the popular beach destination of Goa.

Valsa Nair Singh, Principal Secretary, Excise & Civil Aviation Government of Maharashtra, said: “Massive expansion in airport infrastructure is happening with the Government’s active support. Incentives are being extended to airlines for connecting remote towns in India. 450 airports in the country are still non-operational and can be opened-up when there’s demand. Trouble in aviation is volatile and temporary. There’s enough scope for full service as well as low cost carriers.”

Highlighting challenges, Amey Amaladi, CEO, Akbar Holidays, said: “Competiion among airlines is resulting in thin margins. Fuel, a major factor at 30 to 40 percent of operational cost and widening gap between dollar and rupee are affecting airline profits. Stability in these two factors can lead to greater opportunity.”

Most airlines are targeting India outbound traffic that is predicted to be between 17 to 20 million by 2020. Indians are exploring new destinations. Africa is gearing up for travel and is the future market. Indians like to visit temples and Egypt’s historic temples can be a great attraction.  Egypt venues like Marriott Mena House with the backdrop of Pyramids are suitable for Indian weddings. Indians travel to Africa for game safaris. India was the first destination for Air Tanzania when it started. It’s re-applied for flying rights after discontinuing for a while.

Hon. Mahmoud Thabit Kombo, Minister for Information, Tourism and Heritage, Revolution Government of Zanzibar, said: “Our tourism started in 1986 when the first beach resort opened. Italians were the first to come after the tourism policy of 1992. Outflow to India is more than double that of arrivals into Zanzibar. Most of them travel to India for medical treatments. India is among top 5 trade destinations for Zanzibar and a great opportunity exists between our two countries. Sizeable Indian community is in Zanzibar since 5 centuries.”

Zanzibar is the autonomous region of Tanzania. Rwanda Air that started flights to Mumbai a year ago is considering to a second frequency. Ethiopian Airlines is also adding flights to India.

Mr Duggal said: “Weekend getaway is now a trend with medium haul flights of up to 6 hours coming into the bracket.” Most of Asia and some parts of Africa are connected to India by medium haul flights.

Aman, a travel facilitator for Indian film production, said: “We’re currently helping two soap operas in Turkey and a film in Jordan. Mr David Dhawan has promised to come to Egypt within a month to plan for his next movie here. Though Jordan doesn’t have a policy of incentives for film shoots, they are extending based on each project. They are providing 50 percent of hotels rooms for ours. Starting a co-production house and setting-up of policy framework between the ministries of culture of both countries is good for the industry

B A Rahim, Founder & Group CEO, Aqua Sun, said: “Education about the destination and visibility are key to capture Indian travel market. Connectivity, landing procedure with easy visa facility, food & beverage that satisfies Indian taste buds along with nightlife, flexibility of timings in an itinerary and not so intrusive safety procedures are what they look for.”

India has a flourishing start-up environment. Travel start-ups like Makemytrip, Cleartrip, OYO rooms and Ola cabs are a success story. Understanding laws of any land are important for start-ups.

Ankush Nijhawan, Co-Founder, tbogroup, said: “Africa is a current goldmine due to late arrival of internet. There’s great talent and one has to build a niche to be successful. Brick & mortar business will stay.”  Only $200bn travel business out of total $1.3tn in the world comes from online travel agencies (OTAs)s. Again, 93 percent of that is in US and the UK. However one has to be up-to-date with technology.” Tbogroup runs a call centre in Egypt.

Films have played an important role in promoting a destination in India. Indians love to watch films and 1986 films were produced in India in 2017. Complexities exist in tapping this glamorous industry.

Sheldon Santwan, GTC member, said: “Spain Tourism invested its entire yearly budget in the film ‘Zindagi na milegi dubarra’ and started growing the market at 40 percent every year since then, despite brief closure of its office in India.”

Gabriel Khoury, Misa International Films(Film Distribution Egypt) said: “Egypt’s film industry is worth $32 million and 50 percent of it is American. India is rarely there. 45 films a year and 14 mn tickets for a population of 105 mn is low. We hope to reach up to Indian film industry someday.”

Baba Azmi, Film Maker, India, said: “After travelling in Cairo for 4 days, i feel that its a perfect place to shoot a film. I would love to come and make a film here, even if it’s Egyptian. An average film requires 125-130 crew. Using locally available talent reduces the cost. Not just feature films, but short films and web series can also be made by availing local technical support.”

Ashraf Zaki from Film Association of Egypt, said: “We welcome Indian film makers. We’ll provide all support and also ask concerned authorities to do so. My generation has grown-up watching Indian movies and Indian drama is popular everywhere in Egypt.”

GTC, along with Egypt government, facilitated interaction between 140 delegates from India with 80 travel trade, entertainment and film industry representatives of Egypt.

Written by Anand & Madhura Katti

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