The Consulate General of India has recently organized an event to boost Indian tourism in Ho Chi Minh City, with the participation of Vietnamese and Indian companies and officials.
The diplomatic body held the ‘Visit Incredible India in 2019’ B2B meeting at Sofitel Saigon Plaza in District 1 on Wednesday, it said in a press release the same day.
The event was intended to invite Vietnamese visitors to experience the different flavors of Indian culture, cuisine, bountiful nature, and religious pilgrimages while imploring the travel industry to boost the bilateral people-to-people exchange in line with the guidance given by the leaders of Vietnam and India.
The B2B meetings between Indian and Vietnamese tour operators started the proceedings, as about 35 Vietnamese companies interacted with 15 major tour operators from India.
While Nguyen Thi Anh Hoa, deputy director of the Ho Chi Minh City Tourism Department represented the local government, whereas Tran Hung Viet, chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City Tourism Association, and Most Venerable Dr. Thich Thien Tam, vice-president of the Executive Council of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha (VBS) also spoke at the event.
Officials from the tourism departments of several provinces from southern Vietnam participated in the ‘Visit Incredible India in 2019’ as well.
Impressive classical Indian cultural and yoga performances dotted the event.
Dr. K Srikar Reddy, Consul General of India, highlighted the historical and civilizational links between the two countries.
There has been a regular exchange of bilateral high-level visits between Vietnam and India.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Vietnam in September 2016; Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc paid an official visit to India in January 2018 to participate in the ASEAN-India commemorative summit in New Delhi; Tran Dai Quang, late president of Vietnam, paid a state visit to India in March 2018; and Indian President Ram Nath Kovind was on a business trip in Vietnam from November 18 to 20, 2018.
Leaders of both countries have seen close tourism cooperation and people-to-people relations as a key element of Vietnam and India’s comprehensive strategic partnership, established in September 2016.
Indian Minister for Tourism Shri. K. J. Alphons visited Vietnam and attended the Seventh Meeting of Tourism Ministers of ASEAN and India in Ha Long City on January 18, 2019.
During the meeting, the ministers launched the ASEAN-India Tourism Cooperation Year 2019, and looked forward to enhancing cooperation with a view to increasing two-way tourist visits and promoting greater people-to-people exchanges between the grouping and India.
India is renowned for its cultural, historical, religious, and natural heritage and offers unique experiences to visitors.
The South Asian country offers geographical diversity, attractive beaches, 37 World Heritage Sites, and 25 bio-geographic zones.
India’s diverse traditions, lifestyles, colorful fairs, and festivals promise a vast variety of choices for tourists.
In 2017, foreign tourist arrivals in India topped 10 million, a year-on-year growth rate of 14 percent, while its foreign exchange earnings (FEEs) through tourism were worth US$27.31 billion.
In 2018, there were 31,408 Vietnamese visits to India, up 32 percent against 2017.
Although the number of visitors for tourism purposes between both countries has shown a considerable increase in recent years, it is still well below the potential.
More than 23.94 million Indian tourists traveled abroad in 2017 and about two million Indians visited other ASEAN countries the same year.
|Vietnamese and Indian businesses meet at the ‘Visit Incredible India in 2019’ event in Ho Chi Minh City on March 20, 2019. Photo: Consulate General of India|
According to the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), outbound Indian tourists will have reached 50 million by 2020.
A Euromonitor report put the number of Vietnamese traveling abroad at 7.5 million in 2017.
These significant numbers of outbound tourists both from India and Vietnam are an indicator of the untapped market.
Hoa, the tourism deputy director, said that India ranks 11th among Ho Chi Minh City's top 20 tourist source markets.
By the end of 2018, the number of Indian visitors to Ho Chi Minh City had surpassed 103,000, a rise of nearly 81 percent compared to 2017 and accounting for about 50 percent of the total number of Indians visiting Vietnam.
Sudeshna Ramkumar, assistant director of the Indian Tourism Office in Singapore, gave a presentation on various touristic sites, including ancient Buddhist heritage locations associated with the life of Lord Buddha, India’s temples, palaces and forts.
The Indian Buddhist Heritage is of great interest to the followers of Buddhism the world over.
India is also the land of yoga and Ayurveda and a sought-after destination for wellness and healthcare travel.
The country climbed from 7th in 2017 to 3rd in 2018 in the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Power and Performance index.
Ramkumar said that the government of India values the safety and security of both domestic and international tourists traveling in India as its topmost priority.
A 24/7 toll-free tourist helpline in 12 international languages has been launched in India.
This helpline is available at the existing toll-free number 1800-11-1363 or at the short code 1363 for dialling in India.
The Indian Ministry of Tourism has also taken steps to sensitize drivers, guides and other stakeholders to highlight the theme of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava,’ which means ‘Guest is God.’
The liberalized visa regime provides easy access for visitors.
Vietnamese tourists are increasingly using the e-visa facility and this will maintain its upward swing.