US Commercial Services, US Consulate Mumbai in collaboration with the travel trade has initiated the revival of the Visit USA Committee (VUSACOM) India Chapter. A preliminary meeting was convened earlier this month for the same. According to Richard Rothman, Principal Commercial Officer, US Commercial Services, US Consulate-Mumbai, Ashwini Kakkar, Executive Vice-Chairman, Mercury Travels has been invited to head the revival which is called VUSACOM-Western India as Chairman. About 18 company heads were invited for the preliminary meeting. The details of the formation, managing committee, memberships etc. will be chalked out in the second meeting to be held on June 15, 2011.
VUSACO India Chapter was launched in May 2003 by a group of travel trade professionals along with the support of US Commercial Services with Lalit Sheth, Chairman and Managing Director, Raj Travel World. However, it became defunct sometime in 2005. Commenting on the move to reactivate VUSACOM, Rothman said, “VUSACOM is an independent voluntary organisation comprising of travel trade professionals with the objective of promoting travel to the USA and is present in 40 countries. The Indian market is huge and the fastest growing market. There has been a noticeable increase in outbound traffic to the US from India. Last year, the US recorded 650,000 Indian visitors, an increase of 18 per cent over 2009. India was ranked 12th among source markets and the aim is to get it in the top ten. The idea of forming VUSACOM-Western India is to develop, coordinate and implement marketing efforts with an industry focus to promote the USA as a top destination of choice.”
“The objective is to bring everyone on a single united platform to promote USA in India. We are still working on the formation, whether to start it as a chapter, association or a company under Section 25 and will discuss this in the forthcoming meeting along with plan for memberships, forming a managing committee etc. We will also be talking to travel trade associations in the USA, regional tourism boards and also American suppliers like hotel chains, airlines, cruise lines, attractions, car-rental companies etc. to partner in this initiative. Mumbai is the first chapter but our aim is to slowly expand VUSACOM to other cities with Delhi as the first choice in the near future,” informed Kakkar.
According to Kakkar, VUSACOM-Western India will work on both levels, B2B and B2C. Kakkar added that the website which was launched previously will be revamped with more elements.
Rothman feels that VUSACOM will help cohesion and communication in the travel industry in terms of promoting USA. “It will work as a platform to expand offerings and educate the travel trade by organising joint education sessions etc. There is so much that USA has to offer beyond the few popular and known destinations (cities and attractions) in the Indian market. The travel trade is interested but awareness is lacking and this platform will help bridge the gap.” said Rothman.
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