Madison Avenue tries card trick to woo rich Indians

By Ritwik Mukherjee Mar 05 2012, Kolkata
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The next time you plan a visit to the US, you may want to acquire a Madison Avenue Card. Madison Avenue Card programme is a public-private partnership of the US department of commerce, American Express, NYC & Company, and the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District and its member-businesses. The Madison Avenue Card would entitle Indian travelers to exclusive offers and VIP services in the celebrated flagship boutiques of the world’s finest designers and New York’s major art galleries, spas, restaurants and hotels in the ultra-exclusive, affluent areas. The initiative was prompted by the increasing number of Indian travelers to the US and increasing spending by Indian tourists there. Indian tourists visiting the US in 2010 spent an average of $4,390 totalling a staggering $2.86 billion for 651,000 visitors. And according to a projection released by International Trade Administration (ITA), an arm of the US department of commerce, in February, the US administration anticipates a 50 per cent increase in the number of travellers from India by 2016.

Manoj Gursharan, vice-chairman of VUSAcom (Visit USA Committee), who is also steering the Indo-US tourism collaboration, said, “It’s absolutely fabulous that a whole business district in New York, selling the most premium products of the world, has come together with the US department of commerce to give offers and discounts to Indian travellers. This indicates the growing clout of high spending Indians and the Indian tour operators who decide their travel itinerary.”

VUSAcom has recently started off its Indian chapter out of Mumbai.

Visitors from India, China and Brazil contributed approximately $15 billion to the US economy in 2010, with India sending a modest 651,000 visitors, a 140 per cent increase from the 2003 level. In 2003, the US had received only 272,000 Indian visitors.

Buoyant over the prospects of such a card, Gursharan said that over the last three years, despite global slowdown, Indians have been found spending five times more on shopping for premium brands in US without any specific encouragement from local merchant establishments.

Madison Avenue in New York incidentally is 1.5 miles of mixed use luxury shopping district, the largest of its kind in the world. Hundreds of exclusive top-labels have already signed up under the Madison Avenue Card programme. Some of the leading participating brands are DKNY, Dolce Gabbana, Mont Blanc, Porsche Design, Georgio Armani.