India is currently ranking 12th in terms of visitor arrivals on US visa application to the USA, the Visit-USA Committee (VUSACOM) India, the Indian chapter of VUSACOM - a non-profit collaborative initiative by tour operators and supported by the US Commerce Department - hopes to bring up India’s rank into the single-digit ranks.
Madhav Pai, Chief Operating Officer (leisure travel) at Thomas Cook India said “US tour market has not grown. Cost is also a factor with dollar appreciating tour costs to US have increased”
Despite the economic slowdown; statistics revealed that Indians have spent five times more than others at retail outlets in the US, elaborated Madhav Pai.
Leading tour operators have requested the US government to simplify visa procedures to boost meeting incentive exhibition (MICE) tourism. The Visit USA Committee (Vusacom), a collaborative effort by tour operators and the US Commerce Department, was launched by US commerce secretary John Bryson on Friday.
Travel and tourism to the US is an important way for us to expand our commercial ties and ensure balanced trade growth between our countries. Total spending by Indians traveling to the US was $4.6 billion last year, up 15 per cent from the year before. With the help of Visit USA, we expect this trend to continue, ” said Bryson. He said around 660,000 Indians visited the country last year.
Madhav Pai, (COO- Thomas Cook India) gives us a reason: “Travel remains the ultimate stress buster!" But this growth is also because tour operators are now offering people the option to customize an existing package. Depending on your needs and requirements you can change elements of a particular package”.
According to Ashwini Kakkar, managing director of Mercury Travels, outbound leisure tours to US make a small portion of Indian travel companies business. US is a long haul destination and it is short haul holiday destinations such as Bangkok, Singapore or Dubai which are the favorites, he said.
Another aspect, travel industry sources, say is that US itself has not been involved in large scale marketing to attract tourism. However, things seem to be changing now. The state of California and city of San Francisco are marketing the destinations, Sheema Vohra of Visit California said.
Bryson said the Commerce Department is working closely with America’s travel and tourism industry to encourage more travel from countries such as India to the US. This is part of a larger plan called our National Travel and Tourism Strategy which will be delivered to President Barack Obama in coming weeks, he concluded.