Visit California recently hosted its first Sales Mission in Delhi and Mumbai amidst great response and enormous participation. The huge delegation was led by Visit California President & CEO Caroline Beteta and included California Destination CEOs and senior travel executives from the state’s leading destinations, tourist attractions and hotels. The mission marked the tenth anniversary of Visit California’s marketing activity in India.
The Indian market is critically important to California tourism. In 2018, 353,000 Indian travellers visited California, spending $1.1 billion in the state, with an average stay of 23.5 days. Current projections show an annual 5% to 6% increase in visitation forecast for the foreseeable future. It is estimated that by 2023, Indian visitors will contribute over $1.5 billion to the state’s tourism economy.
Sharing her thoughts and vision for the India market, Caroline Beteta said, “Visit California has identified India as its top opportunity market for visitation growth. The delegates on this Sales Mission are eager to meet with their Indian counterparts, to create and grow relationships that make it easier for Indian visitors to come to California. We are tapping into various segments including millennial travellers, self-drive enthusiasts, and luxury lovers, taking advantage of this excellent opportunity to reinforce California’s position as a premier destination for Indian travellers.”
The delegation met up with the travel agents, tour operators, media and wedding planners on the multi-city mission. The delegates represented a variety of California’s family attractions, culinary experiences, outdoor adventure and signature laid-back luxury offerings, illustrating why the Golden State is one of the most preferred holiday destinations for upmarket travellers from India. In addition to two days of meetings, Visit California also hosted VIP networking events in both the cities, and a media event in New Delhi.
Commenting on the occasion, Cynthia Schmitt, Director, International Sales and Marketing, Citadel Outlets said, “We did very well in the year 2019, especially as the Indian visitors’ footfall increased substantially. Considering that the India market is a relationship building market, we have been successful in not just maintaining relationships but also eventually increasing business.”
Adding to the sentiments, Jodi Cumming, Senior Director, Tourism Development, PIER 39 said, “The major challenge was the exchange rate as there was a worldwide economic slowdown. To top it up, rains and bad weather affected our market drastically. People today are still concerned and skeptical regarding the Visas, which also acts as a deterrent for them. However, despite all this, we are eyeing a good 2020 with an increase of 4-5 per cent from the India market.”
The Sales Mission ran in conjunction with a fact-finding mission in Delhi, hosted by California’s Bay Area Council. Both missions were joined by California Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, adding additional diplomatic impact to each delegation’s presence. In Delhi, Beteta was joined by the Executive Director of the California Film Commission, Colleen Bell. Beteta and Bell met the Film Producers Guild of India to unveil the “California Incentive Collection,” a set of offerings and incentives from California destinations and the California Film Commission. Offers were available to the Guild, as well as other film, television and content production houses from India to encourage increased entertainment production in California.
Visit California executes an always-on marketing and public relations program in India with a range of travel trade and consumer activities throughout the year. The mission provided Visit California’s partners with an opportunity to strengthen existing partnerships and develop new relationships in the market.