The number of visas issued by Vietnam to Indians has increased 24 times from pre-pandemic levels.
Addressing the Outbound Tourism Summit organized by FICCI, H.E. Pham Sanh Chau, Ambassador at the Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, said, “Vietnam issued about 250 visas per day before this pandemic,” adding: “Yesterday I was told by the immigration authority that India came first in the world with 6000 visas issued per day.
Highlighting the reasons for the increase, the Vietnamese Ambassador cited “proximity” and “the opening of direct flights” as possible reasons and said, “Now there will be 17 direct flights between major cities in India and Vietnam”. Furthermore, he referred to the experience factor in tourism and said, “Vietnam is a new destination; it’s a new experience for you.
On occasion, ambassadors and diplomats from Cuba, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Germany also spoke about tourism issues and opportunities in their countries.
HE Alejandro Simancas Marin, Ambassador, Embassy of the Republic of Cuba, alluded to the many investment opportunities in the Cuban tourism sector. He said, “The Cuban tourism sector is open to foreign investment and the Cuban Ministry of Tourism has a portfolio of 176 different products that are offered for foreign investment.” However, he claimed that few Indians visited Cuba and cited a “lack of direct flights between Indian cities and Cuban cities” as a possible reason.
HE Muhamed Cengic, Ambassador, Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina, New Delhi, India, also alluded to the experience factor in tourism. He said: “Bosnia has more waterfalls than France and Spain combined. He noted that Bosnia is not well known to Indian tourists; however, “it is a part of the Balkans, which is becoming popular among Indian tourists,” he added, “if you travel to the Balkan region, you travel to at least three countries that are very diverse, by nature, by culture, by history.
Dr. Stephan Hesselmann, Minister Counsellor, Deputy Director, Department of Economic and Global Affairs, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, New Delhi, India, noted that tourism was a source of business opportunity creation. He referred to the recently launched free trade negotiations between the EU and India and said, “we want to strengthen our economic relations, and tourism is an important economic factor”. Dr Hesselman also referred to “the huge demand for visas at the moment”, which is “impossible in the short term”. He urged to “apply early enough for travel”.
Dr. Jyotsna Suri, FICCI Former President, Chair of FICCI Travel, Tourism and Hospitality Committee and CMD of Lalit Suri Hospitality Group, said: “We have survived this whole pandemic thanks to domestic tourism. . But that is not enough. We need to have a healthy inbound and outbound clientele to be a complete tourist destination. She added, “There were almost 27 million Indians who traveled outside India, which is double the number of tourists who came to India.”
Over the past few months, Indian tour operators have recorded excellent business. Industry participants say there is a positive vibe in the sector. Ankush Nijhawan, Chairman of FICCI’s Outbound Tourism Committee and Co-Founder, TBO.com and Managing Director of Nijhawan Group, noted that “the revival of tourism is behind us now…let’s talk about growth or how whose opportunity will arise”.
Speaking of the tourism sector globally, Nijhawan said that between FY16-19 there were over 1.5 trillion outbound trips and 135 destinations received over 1 million trips. arrivals. However, he claimed that many of us don’t realize how big the market is. He noted that tourists spent $9 trillion in 2019. “It’s up about 5% from 2016 and is expected to have $11.5 trillion to spend in FY24.”
Speaking about the recovery in global tourism, Nijhawan said, “The market has come back faster than the experts thought.” He added: “When we see all this lost luggage at Heathrow, check-in issues in Europe, challenges with Visa, it’s because we never realized how quickly the market is going to recover.”
Alluding to the increase in outbound tourism from India, Nijhawan cited changing lifestyles, dual income households leading to higher disposable income, access to information and lure of offbeat tourism, and Buy-Now-Pay-Later, as plausible reasons.
Rajan Sehgal, Co-Founder – PASSIONALS, Chairman – Indian Golf Tourism Association and Member – MANAS under the Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India delivered the welcome address.
A FICCI – Nangia Andersen Knowledge Paper on Outbound Tourism was also released on the occasion.