Milan hosted a meeting between representatives of the Italy-based Indian Tourism Representation and tour operator promoters of the destination, air carrier representatives: Air India and Jet Airways, the representative of the SINA Group of Hotels representing Federalberghi, plus a representative of the Italian Ministry of Tourism to discuss future promotional strategies designed to give greater impetus to tourism in the bilateral agreements between Italy and India.
Presiding over the meeting in Italy with the Ambassador of India was HE Mr. Debabrata Saha; Mr. S.K. Verma, India Consul General in Milan; and Mr. Gobind C. Bhuyan, Director of India Tourism Milan.
In highlighting the important economic contribution of tourism in India, which in 2010 saw the arrival of 6 million tourists and foreign currency revenue to 14 billion dollars (Italy 44 million arrivals and 14 billion dollars in 2010), the Ambassador pointed out that the number of tourists from Italy to India do not record significant numbers, while the Indian tourism to Italy shows a prancing movement. “We are not yet to the levels of China, the ambassador said, but the growing middle class multiplies their potential, and we welcome the fact that our fellow citizens do deserve to benefit from the attractions of the world and in particular those offering Italy.
“Advertising has an important role and our driving theme, ‘Incredible India,’ has an important role in promoting tourism. Although it is difficult to determine what are the factors that stimulate the desire to visit a country, we believe that advertising encourages. The Italian tourism potential is also highly respected, for its travelers are considered the most generous in the world, with buyers spending up to $250 per capita per day.
“The first Indo-Italian Tourism Promotion Forum demonstrates the interest of the government of India to the Italian tourist potential and the need for insights into the causes of the unsatisfactory contribution of tourists from Italy to India, studying and implementing corrective measures to improve bilateral ties between the two countries. Tourism is very important for our bilateral relations, which provide a satisfactory reciprocal flow of travelers, a ‘ping-pong,’ which energizes the sector and the economic development that generates gives a huge impact on society.”
In this regard, the Ambassador informed that his government is interested in putting in place improvement plans that include incentives taking into account also the contribution that the working group is invited to suggest.
Dr. Maddalena Scarsini, representing the Italian Ministry, said: “‘We trust that Italy and India consolidate their economic and tourism relations and the powerful ties between the two companies (countries). Tourism has influences not only on the investment income and its employment. We appreciate the economic development of India, whose presence at this forum confirms its will to strengthening mutual tourist exchanges. Italy is a favorite destination for Indian travelers, who appreciate our professionalism in the field, a source of pride for us. We are working in a framework of friendship and cooperation that dates back since the year 2000 and confirm that the basic points of the Indian Ministry of Tourism are aligned with that of the Bilateral Agreement. ”
Feedback and Suggestions by the Participants
The opening topic was common on the need to streamline the online visa system, considered complicated especially for the elaborated filling of visa application forms in English and proposed to introduce a bilingual text. Also, there is the need to issue multiple visas for travel on itineraries that foresee exit from and return to India, eg., New Delhi, Nepal, and return. On the proposal to establish a “visa on arrival (VoA)” system, the Ambassador explained that his government must abide by the principles of the Schengen imposed rules. This easier tourist visa application could, however, become a reality in the future. More European countries have been included in said system lately, said the Ambassador.
Other proposals: the need to extend the advertising on television channels with commercials featuring the modernizing progress of the country, avoiding views deemed less pleasant; More direct air connections sought after – Alitalia may help when their plan to link Rome with India may be viable within 2012; and, of fundamental importance, the promotion of India in minor Italian cities, namely the south, adopting the “road show” system.