India’s ‘Premier Partner’ status with World Travel Market London last year has led to double-digit growth in international tourism and a bumper number of business deals.
The Premier Partnership status gave India a greatly enhanced profile at WTM London 2016, as the country’s tourism board highlighted its diverse attractions to the world’s key source markets and international media.
India become WTM London’s headline partner to promote its increased airline services and $300 million worth of investment in tourism infrastructure over the past 18 months. It was looking to agree deals with almost 10,000 senior buyers at WTM London to help attract more than 13 million annual visitors by 2020 – up from nine million in 2016.
WTM London facilitates £2.8 billion in industry business deals from almost one million business meetings, not including the speed networking events and meetings held at pre-appointment sessions such as ILTM at WTM.
Neela Lad, deputy director general at India’s tourism ministry, hailed the Premier Partnership as a “great success”.
“We believe that the huge exposure India achieved during the campaign has led to the 16% year-on-year increase of international visitors into India during January 2017,” she said.
This is significantly higher than 7% year-on-year increase seen in January 2016.
“Furthermore, the increased on-site exposure at WTM London saw us hold many more meetings with buyers than in previous years,” she added.
“We are close to signing many deals from WTM London which will help to further increase the number of international arrivals to India. The Premier Partnership has already paid for itself through the increase in business deals that have been agreed.”
Being the Premier Partner meant that India could make the most of its successful ‘Incredible India’ brand and celebrity endorsement from award-winning film star Miriam Margolyes.
There was standing room only at India’s packed press conference during WTM London, attended by Indian tourism minister Dr Mahesh Sharma and Margolyes – the star of Harry Potter films and The Real Marigold Hotel TV series, filmed in India.
Her enthusiastic praise for India and its “warm, funny, joyous, welcoming people” received media coverage around the globe.
There was also widespread press coverage about the sheer variety on offer in India, including UNESCO heritage sites, luxury travel, ecotourism and wildlife, as well as practical measures such as improvements to the country’s its e-Visa scheme and a new free 24/7 helpline.
WTM London, Senior Director, Simon Press, said:
“We’re delighted that India has already seen such a great return on its investment in the WTM London Premier Partnership. Being Premier Partner put India in prime position to promote its tourism offering to almost 10,000 of the world’s most important buyers through the WTM Buyers’ Club.”
“Overall, WTM London 2016 generated a record £2.8 billion in travel and tourism industry deals, and India benefited from many of those deals.” He added:
“It was a great time for India to be a Premier Partner, as the country prepared to mark the 70th anniversary of independence in 2017.”
“India is aiming for more than 13 million annual visitors by 2020 – up from about nine million in 2016 – so the success of its Premier Partnership at WTM London has put it well on the way to surpassing its ambitious target.”