SAYONI BHADURI – Mumbai
In an effort to increase trade investments between India and Belfast, Belfast City Council is hosting India Week in the month of June. As part of the week, there will be a two-day convention – Global India Business Meet – with 350 Indian investors from India. There will also be cultural events through the week. Shirley McCay, head of economic initiatives and international relations, Belfast City Council said, “We are looking at engineering, IT, pharmaceutical, creative media, tourism and education sectors.” She added that within creative media, films will be a focus area; they have provisions for tax incentives and generous packages for those who wish to conduct shoots in the city. With popularity of ‘Ek Tha Tiger’ inquiries have increased from one to ten in 2013. “We are also looking at a twin city in India,” she said.
The focus on tourism in Belfast will continue as McCay explained that there are plans to develop the conventions business. “We are investing GBP 20 million to expand and develop the existing convention centre and exposition centre in Belfast.” The second focus area for tourism in Belfast is to develop it as a culture and arts hub. McCay informed that the city has hosted MTV Awards in 2011 throwing the spotlight on the city. “The business went up by GBP 1.2 million,” she added. There are a variety of music performance venues and recording in the region.
Post the success of ‘Ek Tha Tiger’, Ireland has seen 20,000 Indian travellers visiting the country, said Jim Paul, head of Australia and Developing Markets, Tourism Ireland. He said that over last five years awareness of Ireland in India has improved. “From trying to point out Ireland on a Europe map to proactive inquiries from Indian travel trade, the improvement has been great,” he said, adding that more work needs to be done. Emirates recently started flights to Dublin improving access to the destination. “The route is already going full and they are looking at increasing the number of flights, ” he added.