U.S. travel suppliers and DMO representatives headed off to India for the Brand-USA-helmed sales mission that takes place Sept. 18-21 will be the first to concede that the cost of taking part is not inexpensive. But one gets the sense from those who are making the investment that the future, at the moment, looks very promising for a country that sent just 274,000 visitors to the United States in 2000 but will likely generate more than 1.2 million arrivals to the USA this year.
Based on our coverage of the market, as well as our conversations with travel suppliers, DMOs, receptive tour operators, actual members of a tour group from India, and how we read the data—along with other factors that involve some intangibles—it seems that those taking part in the sales mission have reason to feel confident about the value of their investment. Following, in no particular order, are some of the factors that weigh in on behalf of this outlook.
—The Brand USA sales mission—this is the fifth iteration of the event—has proved sufficiently rewarding that the it has expanded to include Benagaluru (also known as Bangalore) on an itinerary that has regularly included New Delhi and Mumbai. Located in the southern part of the country, Benagaluru is the capital of the state of Kamatka and has a population of 8.4 million people. Brand USA hopes to expand the trade contacts to this part of India, as well as continue to cultivate the travel trade in New Delhi and Mumbai.
—U.S. travel suppliers also benefit by participating next February (Feb. 15—17) under “one flag”—that of Brand USA—at the 35th annual SATTE (South Asia Travel and Tourism Exchange), a trade show that attracts about 20,000 people from throughout the world.
—The U.S. ambassador to India is Richard Verma (in the photo above, he is at the left), whose parents came to the U.S. from India. Verma’s father taught English literature at the Johnstown, Pennsylvania campus of the University of Pittsburgh. Credentialed as ambassador in January 2015—just before the SATTE show—he is enormously popular in the country and has eagerly promoted travel to the USA.
—One factor driving a couple of the numbers in the above tables is large number of students from India who are studying at U.S. colleges and universities. According to the Institute of International Education, there were nearly 133,000 students from India studying in the United States in the 2014-15 school year. Only China sends more students to America.
—A substantial number of Indian travelers come to the United States to visit their children who are studying in the United States, as well as children and relatives who have stayed on in the USA to take jobs. There are large concentrations of professionals from India now living and working in the Boston-to-Philadelphia corridor and in Silicon Valley.
—Almost all Indians who travel to the United States speak English, and they speak it well. In fact, there are 125 million people from India who speak English. Sometimes, it is the common language of Indians abroad, who might speak Punjabi or Hindi at home, but are only able to communicate with one another in English when abroad.
—While there are no data to confirm the fact, we believe that Indians probably do more research on the destinations and attractions they are going to visit than do travelers from any major market.