Joint SecretaryMinistry of Tourism, India
With a global market of travelers, India is positioned to keep its momentum going in world tourism. During an exclusive interview at World Travel Mart, Anand Kumar, joint secretary of India’s Ministry of Tourism, discussed why his country has become an international destination with Elite Traveler Editor-in-Chief Douglas Gollan.
ET: Do you have any concerns about the impact of the global economy on tourism?
Anand Kumar: Three-quarters of India’s tourism is domestic and our economy, as you know, is very strong, so tourism in India is not affected. There are over 615 million domestic trips per year. We also have a lot of outgoing travel as well.
ET: What are the key segments of India’s tourism that would be of most interest to elite travelers?
Anand Kumar: It depends a bit where you are from. From the Middle East and Africa, medical tourism is very popular. From Russia, C.I.S. countries and Europe there is sun tourism. We have wellness tourism and also sports tourism. We just hosted a Formula 1 race and we want to promote film tourism, getting more production companies to shoot in India. Golf tourism is also important. (India has some 250 courses including courses designed by Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, Arnold Palmer and Robert Trent Jones.)
ET: Are there business opportunities as well?
Anand Kumar: Our economy is growing at a rate of eight percent annually so there we get a lot of visitors who come for business and leisure. There are quite a few opportunities in many industries and many foreign companies have found doing business in India to be a good investment.
ET: There have also been upgrades to the infrastructure.
Anand Kumar: We have opened new state-of-the-art airports in Bangalore, Delhi and Hyderabad. There has been massive investment in upgrading roads and highways so travel within India is now modern and easy.
ET: What are the key tourism seasons?
Anand Kumar: India has become a 365-day-a-year destination. Travelers from the Middle East come during the monsoon season, as an example.
ET: Any particular notes on India’s luxury tourism product?
Anand Kumar: India has become known for some of the world’s top hotels. In Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Hotels list, India had four of the top 20. Oberoi’s Udaivilas was ranked as the number one resort in Asia. We have luxury trains such as Palace on Wheels. (Other luxury trains include The Indian Maharaja, Royal Rajasthan and Golden Chariot.) As I mentioned, we have top golf and world class events such as Formula 1, so we would very much like to have your readers visit as we know they would have a fantastic experience!