What are the main products Tourism Flanders is promoting in the India market?
|Peter De Wilde|
Flanders is the northern region of Belgium and is famous for its’ Flemish art and cultural heritage. It has a lot to offer to Indian tourists, namely the historic art cities, Flemish cuisine, shopping, diamonds and fashion. The region depicts Flemish cutting-edge craftsmanship very distinctly through its’ diverse range of products like its hand-crafted artisan chocolates, intricate lace-making that is indigenous of the region and its wide range of boutique breweries among others. As Tourism Flanders, we want to showcase this elaborate range of fine-arts, culture, architecture, and products to the Indian market.
How would you rate the interest in The War Centenary among Indian outbound?
The Flemish government has set up a four-year long remembrance project named ‘The Great War Centenary’ to commemorate the victims of World War I. This war had a significant participation by Indian soldiers as part of the Commonwealth Forces. Over 57,000 Indian soldiers have perished in Flanders Fields. Memorials have been erected for each of these victims and several Indians want to revisit these sites. In fact, a recent consumer survey conducted by Tourism Flanders reveals the interest Indian outbound has in this event. Over 76 per cent of the participating consumers agreed that they would like to visit Flanders Fields in its centenary year, in 2014.
Which are you main target markets in India and are you also looking at Tier II cities other than the major metros?
The major metros of Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai are the focus markets at the moment for Tourism Flanders. However, we have constantly seen interest generated from various cities of Gujarat like Surat and Ahmadabad primarily with the VFR (Visiting Friends & Relatives) traffic and the members of the diamond community having connections back in Antwerp.
Are you negotiating with any airlines in India to improve connectivity to Flanders?
Jet Airways has Brussels as its’ major European hub and has direct daily flights from New Delhi and Mumbai to Brussels. This means that actually excellent connections exist between our two countries, offering Indian visitors comfortable and convenient travel to Flanders or further on to nearby destinations. Jet Airways has been a good partner to us the past years and we can only hope to deepen our cooperation in the near future.