To organise Visa awareness workshop at US Consulate in Mumbai this month; targets 300 members by year-end
The Visit USA Committee (VUSACOM) India Chapter, which has been revived as a company under Section 25 of the Indian Companies Act, has launched its website (http://vusa.in) and will be conducting its first activity, a visa awareness workshop, in the third week of this month at the US Consulate in Mumbai, located at Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC). The workshop is primarily for counter staff but is also open to other interested members of the travel trade. A major launch function has also been planned for the third week of February and will be organised at the US Consulate in Mumbai. A membership drive also commenced from this month and the annual membership fee is Rs 5,000 for travel agents/tour operators and Rs 25,000 for DMC’s/hotels.
The revival of VUSACOM India Chapter was set in motion by US Commercial Services, US Consulate Mumbai in collaboration with the travel trade early last year. A core Executive Committee, comprising of 17 top executives from the tourism industry, has been formed with Ashwini Kakkar (Executive Vice Chairman, Mercury Travels) as President and Manoj Gursahani (Chairman, TravelMart India) as Vice President. Other officer bearers will be appointed shortly. (Executive Committee members are listed below). The Committee’s U.S. Consulate General Honorary Members include Richard M. Rothman, Commercial Consul, U.S. Commercial Service; Marsha.McDaniel, Commercial Officer, U.S. Commercial Service; and Ali Asgar Motiwala, Commercial Specialist, U.S. Commercial Service.
According to Gursahani, regional chapters will also be launched soon and the membership target by the year’s end is about 300 members. “We are targeting decision-makers and the membership base will be a mix of tour operators, DMCs, hotels, etc. In short, any stakeholder of the industry connected with promotion of the USA will be tapped,” he stated. He also informed that the VUSACOM India Chapter will also use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. shortly.
The VUSACOM India Chapter has been set up as an apex body to promote outbound travel to USA from India and one of the focus areas is increasing MICE traffic to the USA. The plan of action for VUSACOM India Chapter was discussed at a meeting of the core Executive Committee with Peter Haas, US Consul General; David Tyler, US Consular Section Chief; and Richard Rothman, US Commercial Consul, early last month at the newly-opened sprawling consulate facility at BKC. The VUSACOM delegation was also taken on a tour and was shown the Consular waiting area with 39 interview windows (four-fold increase), Multi-purpose Rooms, Library, atrium, etc.
During the meeting, Kakkar reiterated the main objective of the VUSACOM India Chapter, stating, “The aim is to improve footfalls of Indians arriving into the USA from the current twelfth position to single digits and to have a pan-India presence.” While Rothman appreciated the progress made by VUSACOM in such a short span, David Tyler assured the core Executive Committee of his support and mentioned that he will delegate a representative from his team as a point person to co-ordinate on a day-to-day basis.
According to Rothman, the Indian market is huge and is the fastest growing market with a noticeable increase in outbound traffic to the US from India. The idea of reviving and setting up a new VUSACOM India Chapter is to develop, coordinate and implement marketing efforts with an industry focus to promote the USA as a top destination of choice,” stated Rothman.
The VUSACOM India Chapter was first started in May 2003 by a group of travel trade professionals with support from US Commercial Services. However, it became defunct sometime in 2005. Globally, 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.
VUSACOM Executive Committee 2011-12
- Ashwini Kakkar (Mercury Travels)
- Manoj Gursahani (Travelmartindia)
- Bharat Patil (Raja Rani Travels)
- Dhananjay Saliankar (Starwood Hotels & Resorts)
- Hutokshi Marker (Trail Blazer Tours India Pvt. Ltd.)
- Joseph Fernandes (AVIAREPS)
- Karan Anand (Cox & Kings)
- Madhavan Menon (Thomas Cook)
- Mark Mendes (Discover the World Marketing)
- Monis Mahfooz (Continental Airlines)
- Nalin Kapadia (Incredible Vacations)
- Rajiv Duggal (Kuoni India)
- Ravi Shankar (Travel Exotica)
- Sanjay Arya (Uniglobe – Keshav Travels)
- Sudhir Patil (Kesari Tours)
- Shampa Dhali (Marriott International)
- Sheema Vora (USTA Representative)