London woos Indian tourists


London is pleased to welcome over 1,200 representatives from the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) taking place from September 26-28. It is the first time in TAAI’s nearly 60-year history that the organization has held its annual convention outside of India and Asia.

India is a key emerging visitor market for London and Britain. For the last two consecutive years, Indian tourists to London have outspent the Japanese, and India is expected to generate 60 million outbound travelers by 2020. Visit London, the capital’s tourism agency, forecasts spending from Indian visitors is set to increase by more than 50% to £229 million between now and the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The Travel Agents Association of India represents over 2,500 Indian travel agents and other tourism representatives who influence a substantial part of the burgeoning outbound travel market from one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Over 95% of Indian travelers book through the travel trade, and by hosting the convention, London has a great opportunity to showcase the city and its tourist offerings.

Visit London won the bid to host the TAAI congress in March of this year beating Cairo, Dubai and Korea, and the convention alone is worth over £1.3 million to the capital’s economy. Many more visits from India are expected to be generated as a result of holding the convention. Previous host cities have seen a 30% increase in inbound tourism from an India post-conference.

Visit London chief executive James Bidwell said, “Hosting this congress is a tremendous win for London, and we are pleased to welcome our guests for the start of this important annual event in the TAAI calendar. London is the number one destination in the world for international travel, and we are committed to maintaining this momentum in the face of a fragmenting global tourism industry. As new destinations continue to grow and emerging economies rise, London and Britain need to adapt to the changing mix of visitors. India is an important market for London, and it is critical that we are able to influence the opinion-formers of their travel industry. The three-day TAAI congress is the perfect opportunity to showcase London and Britain to the travelers of tomorrow.”

During the annual congress, key representatives from the Indian travel industry will be discussing a range of travel issues such as technology, trends and new markets for inbound and outbound travel.

President of the Travel Agents Association of India Challa Prasad said, “From the regal chambers of the Rastrapathi Bhavan in New Delhi to the humble district collector’s office in a dusty corner of India, a little bit of London can be seen and felt everywhere. The Indian Travel Congress 2008 will be the ideal platform for business exchange between the Indian and local travel trade. For Indians, London is the natural gateway to Europe and the Americas, and I am sure the London Congress will be the portal to new opportunities for the travel industry in both countries.”

The TAAI convention will be taking place across a number of venues in London including The Cumberland Hotel, Lord’s Cricket Ground, Central Hall Westminster, QEII Center and the National Maritime Museum.

Showcasing London’s cultural offerings over the course of the convention, delegates will see exclusive performances from the English National Ballet and leading West End productions.