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‘San Francisco is very attractive to incentive travellers from India’

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Antonette Eckert, director of International Tourism- Asia/Pacific, San Francisco Travel Association highlights the factors that make the gateway city of San Francisco a preferred choice for Indian MICE travellers.

Which are the new focus areas for you in the India market ?

We are promoting San Francisco as the premier destination for conventions, meetings, events and leisure travel. Further, we are focused on projecting the city as a cultural destination to capitalise on varied experiences and activities cultural travellers seek.

Which are the new products you are trying to promote here?

The San Francisco Travel Association have recently re-launched their website that provides a wealth of information and inspiration for visitors, meeting planners, travel professionals, media and San Francisco Travel partners. San Francisco has announced new venues with facilities perfectly suited to events of all sizes and types. The Masonic that re-opened in September with landmark transformations is now a prime venue for concerts and special events. The city’s cultural scene is also reaching new heights with a number of culture centres, theatres and facilities.

What has been your engagement with the travel trade here?

Ours was the first US destination marketing organisation to set up a representative office in India in 2009. We also have year-round educational programmes conducted in various Tier I and Tier II cities in India.

How important is the Indian MICE segment in your strategic plans for India?

MICE travel from the India market is growing and USA is a favourite and an aspirational destination. San Francisco being a gateway city in combination with its proximity to cities like Los Angeles, Las Vegas naturally makes it a preferred choice. An important aspect for MICE travellers is connectivity and San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is the gateway to North America. San Francisco offers immense choices of unique open and outdoor areas for gala dinners to choices in international cuisine with very good vegetarian and organic options, to iconic attractions and shopping that makes it very attractive to incentive travellers from India.

What kind of growth do you expect from this market in the next two / three years?

In 2013 we saw an estimated 97,000 Indian visitors and growth projection for the next two years are very positive. California continues to dominate the USA tourism landscape with 27.9 per cent market share of Indian visitors and an average stay of 20 nights in California. 240,000 Indians visited California in 2013. Between 2013 and 2017, California’s visitation from India is projected to grow a total of 41 per cent to 339,000.

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