Obama’s Tourism Promotion Initiatives

LAUNCH OF VUSACOM (VISIT-USA COMMITTEE) INDIA CHAPTER, LIKELY TO ADD MOMENTUM TO OBAMA’S TOURISM PROMOTION INITIATIVES

The Indian Chapter of VUSACOM (Visit USA Committee) has been launched at a very exciting time. Its kicking off has coincided with the US of A’s tremendous acceleration of efforts towards increasing tourism in general. The newly formed Indian Chapter of VUSACOM (Visit-USA Committee) is supported by, and will function under the guidance of the US Commerce Department. The Committee comprises of leading travel companies in India, and the number of members has been increasing rapidly.

During his unveiling of the US’s tourism promotion strategy and initiatives, in Florida’s Disneyland, on January, 19, 2012, President Obama said, “Let’s realize that in the years ahead, more and more tourists are going to come from countries with rapidly growing economies, huge populations and emerging middle classes – countries like India.”

Significant for India, among the new US tourism initiatives, is the expedition and simplification of the visa application process, and the creation of a task-force to promote travel to and within the United States.

NTA (National Trade Association) president Lisa Simon, said that the initiatives put the travel and tourism industry under the spotlight as a “key contributor to the nation’s economic vibrancy”. “With President Obama’s action today, the travel and tourism industry has reached an all-time high in terms of vigor and visibility,” Ms Simon stated.

Despite the global economic slowdown over the last few years, statistics show that Indians have spent 5 times more at premium retail outlets in the US! Indian tourists visiting America in 2010, spent an average of $4390, totaling to a staggering $2.86 billion for 6,51,000 visitors. According to a projection released recently, by The International Trade Administration (ITA), which is a body of the US Department of Commerce, the US anticipates a 50% increase in the number of travelers from India by 2016. It’s no wonder then thatthe US commerce circuit believes that the much needed push for America’s tourist industry will come from affluent Indians!

Speaking about working towards increasing tourist arrivals in the US, Richard Rothman, Commercial Consul, US Consulate, stated, “We have laid out a strategy to help pull India up from her current position-12 to a single-digit one!

Ashwini Kakkar, President of VUSACOM – India, who is steering the Indo-US tourism collaboration, said “VUSACOM is exhilarated about implementing its strategy for increasing Indian outbound traffic to the US. Membership to the VUSACOM – India Chapter, will comprise of companies or entities that provide or promote tourism and travel from India to the US such as airlines, car rentals, cruise liners, trade professionals, CRS companies, hotels, transportation companies, and the media. VUSACOM India has already begun activities to increase awareness among the Travel Trade!”

Among VUSACOM’s current initiatives are: Visa communication with Visa Consular Services ; an encouragement of group travel by organizing MICE (Meetings-Incentive-Conferences-Exhibition/Events); acting as a B2B platform for Travel Agents / Tour Operators, and facilitating meetings with various US travel suppliers; showcasing new emerging destinations; and supporting US programs for promoting travel.

In fact, on January, 24, 2012, VUSACOM flagged off a unique shopping privilege program called “The Key to Madison Avenue Card Program”, in Mumbai. The Key to Madison Avenue Card Program is a public-private entity partnership. It is a collaboration of: American Express, the United States Department of Commerce, NYC & Company, and the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District and its member-businesses. The cards, which will be given completely free of cost to select Travel Agencies and Tour Operators, will entitle their high-end Indian clients to special deals and V.I.P. privileges in New York City’s most prestigious shopping destination – Madison Avenue!

“With this program, we hope that affluent travelers from urban India can contribute more to the USA economy”, Richard Rothman commented. Speaking on behalf of the US Consulate and VUSACOM, he added, “This is just one among many initiatives that we have planned, to help the US tourism, and the Indian travel industry go from strength to strength”.