India plans road shows to woo Saudi tourists

The Gateway of India
The Gateway of India in Mumbai, is one of the foremost tourist attractions of India.

Saudi Arabia together with other Gulf countries will be the focus of attention of the tourism planners of India this year. India, which has been highlighted as a tourism hotspot by the World Travel and Tourism Council, has announced plans to hold important tourism events in the Gulf this year, beginning with road shows in Dammam and Riyadh next week.

“A delegation from India comprising several tour operators will visit the Kingdom to stage the road shows,” Surinder Bhagat, a spokesman for the Indian embassy, said in Riyadh recently.

The delegation will be composed of several high-level officials and executives representing the Indian Ministry of Tourism, Air India, Jet Airways, Taj Group of Hotels, hospitals offering medical tourism products as well as state tourism departments of Jammu & Kashmir, Delhi and Karnataka.

The Government of India Tourist Office (GOITO), Dubai, in collaboration with the Embassy of India will organize the “India Tourism Road Shows” in Dammam on Jan. 7 and in the Saudi capital on Jan 9. The events include detailed presentations on Indian tourism, buyer-seller meetings between Indian tour operators and Saudi tour operators and a raffle draw. Participants will also get a taste of Indian delicacies.

Asked about the participation of major Indian companies in the events, Prabhu Chandran, Air India manager, said that the national carrier would have a prominent presence.

“We are working hard to promote India as one of the top tourism destinations,” said Chandran, adding that the events are aimed at introducing a variety of tourism packages to Saudis with an aim to attract tourists from all walks of life.

The medical tourism component of the events will highlight the growing and advanced medical treatment facilities available in India. The presentations will also bring out the rich and diverse attractions in India – ranging from the majestic Himalayas to the golden beaches of Goa, the exquisite architecture of the south, the splendor of the Taj Mahal and, of course, India as a shoppers’ paradise.

Tourism in India is the largest service industry today with a contribution of 6.23 percent to the national GDP and 8.78 percent of the total employment in India. The tourism industry in India generated about $100 billion in 2008 and that is expected to increase to $275.5 billion by 2018, which is a 9.4 percent annual growth rate. In the year 2010, 17.9 million foreign tourists visited India, a report from the Indian Ministry of Tourism added.