China is the biggest outbound tourism source market in the world with more than 160 US$ spent by 116 million travellers in 2014. With the opening of the India Tourism Office in Beijing in early 2008, India poised to welcome its share of China’s newly affluent world travellers.
Planting the seeds amidst such a vital market, India and China have forged cooperation in tourism that resulted in the “India-China Year of Friendship through Tourism” campaign in 2007 that promoted tourism between the two countries. The campaign has been an important launching pad for India’s tourism push in China with an action plan that included a number of familiarization (FAM)trips for select Chinese media and tour operators, including a delegation sponsored by the Chinese National Tourism Administration(CNTA). CNTA in turn, participated in Delhi’s South Asia Travel &Tourism Exchange Exhibition and opened an office in Delhi in 2007.
One of the outcomes of President Xi Jinping’s visit to India last year was the decision he and Prime Minister Modi made to jointly celebrate 2015 as the Visit India Year in China and 2016 as the Visit China Year in India, the objective being to enhance tourism between India and China two countries.
This year the Visit India Year was launched at a special function in Beijing which was attended by Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang. Prime Minister Modi sent out a special video message, inviting Chinese people to visit India. This year India will organize a series of activities in different parts of China in partnership with the China National Tourism Administration and other Chinese entities to expand India-China tourism cooperation. The objective is to encourage better understanding and foster mutual trust among the people.
Rolling Out the Welcome Mat
A large number of visas for India are now being issued and there are many people who combine their business travel with leisure. “All promotional brochures and advertisements have been translated into Mandarin and Cantonese. The Ministry of Tourism’s website www.incredibleindia.org is now accessible in Mandarin apart from the nine languages that include Hindi, English, Japanese, Korean, French, Dutch, Italian, German and Arabic.
Given these enticements among others, Chinese travelers are increasingly opting, to see India for themselves. The number of Chinese tourists arriving in India has gone from 21,152 in 2003 to more than 200,000 in 2013 and growing. With the opening of the Beijing office,people-to-people exchanges on the government and private levels have increased and thus heightened awareness on both sides.
The ease with which Chinese nationals can apply and receive visas for travel to India along with increased airline flight services between India and China have also helped boost tourism numbers. “It’s easier to get a visa for India now, for a while it was more difficult but that’sin the past. You apply and get a visa in four days. Chinese national shave the option of applying for business, tourist, student or employment visa.
Both India and China are fascinating destinations and both have ancient heritages and centuries old civilizations upon which they continue to evolve. Both countries have a cultural diversity that is of great importance and interest for domestic and international travelers alike,making them ideally suited travel partners. Additionally, their proximity makes travel relatively easy and economical, especially for tour groups, which Chinese travelers continue to prefer.
There’s increased awareness of India amongst the Chinese potential traveler. The number of travel agents in Beijing that are dedicating part of their workforce to specializing in India travel has boosted both consumer interest and the number of travel groups, “And that’s all because of our presence here as well as the promotional events that have been held over the past year.
Tourism is emerging as a vital link between China and India, fuelled by an increasing level of bilateral trade, business and governmental cooperation between the two sides. The future of tourist travel between the two countries together which represent 40 percent of the world’s population continues to be promising based on the current trajectory of growth. Expectations are high that the number of tours and travelers will only continue to grow faster with greater interest and more exchange programmes, there by increasing the strength in relations and greater understanding between the two countries.