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During the recent China Week in India, Marriott International organized an interactive session for its Chinese hoteliers to assist them with better understanding of the Indian travel and tourism market, and get acquainted with the behavior of Indian travelers. At the session, insights were shared by Rajiv Kale, President & Country Head, Thomas Cook India; Alok Sawhney, Head of International Sales, Jet Airways; and Ravi Subramanyam, Director, Little International. The session was moderated by Sheldon Santwan, Editor and COO, TravelBiz Monitor. Panellists were synonymous in their opinion that China, in order to become a tourism hub especially for foreign markets like India, needs to market itself aggressively and through correct communication channels.

Kale explained that China has been marketed among the Indian travel trade as a complete business destination and less as holiday and leisure destination. “There is very little awareness about China as a tourist destination. Indian travelers are increasing day by day and are looking for more and more unexplored and experiential destinations. It’s the right time for China to market itself in the Indian market and fill in the gap.”

According to Sawhney, China in order to expand its presence in India has to look for engagement and partnership options with the members of Indian travel and tourism industry. Sawhney explained that any tourism destination in order to succeed must work on marketing and engagement aspects and should strive towards easing out the travelling process. Citing an example of Dubai, he said that the emirate has succeeded due to extensive marketing campaigns and good relation building exercise with the Indian travel trade, whereas Hong Kong is losing out its stake in the Indian market since last two years because of strict visa processing terms. He mentioned that Bollywood is one big platform for marketing and destinations such as Spain and Switzerland have used Bollywood to grow popular in the Indian market.

“In the last 5 to 7 years the middle class Indian society has created an upsurge in the industry. The spending power of this section has increased considerably thereby becoming prime targets for various international destinations. China as a destination needs to create awareness and moreover needs to change the perception of Indians about the destination being only meat-eater nation. Indians are willing to spend but, it is the duty of Tourism Board to engage with hoteliers, airlines, travel agents, etc., and properly reach out to them,” briefed Subramanayam. He also said that China has high reputation among HNI (high net income) travelers as they are always looking for personalised services, and China has brands like Marriott who specialize in delivering boutique experience. “It is very pleasing that Marriott is taking initiatives to expand its reach in the Indian market. The tourism board and other concerned authorities should also work on the same guidelines if they want to promote themselves as a preferred destination in India,” he added.