Sudipta Dev – Mumbai
India along with China is a key emerging market for VisitScotland. As many as 18,000 Indians visited Scotland in 2012, their spend was up by over GBP 5 million. “We have also noticed that the Indian consumer spends a lot more, that is GBP 300 more than the average international visitor, so in terms of revenue they are very important as a source market,” said Vineet Lal, international marketing manager – Long Haul and Emerging Markets, VisitScotland. He was in India recently as part of the sales mission which coincided with the Queens Baton Relay in Delhi, a precursor to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next year.
Lal mentioned that there are certain brands in Scotland that resonates well with the Indian demographics. For instance, golf and whisky is fundamental to the tour of Scotland. “Scotland is the home of whisky. You can visit over a hundred distilleries within Scotland. There are several whisky trails. There are 550 golf courses, including places like St Andrews which is a hallowed turf for golf lovers,” he added. Golf is of interest across the board – for both leisure as well as the MICE segment. “Having spoken to the travel trade in Bengaluru, New Delhi and Mumbai, it is clear that the Indian traveller is ready to try new experiences,” stated Lal.
An important part of VisitScotland’s efforts in this market are the SCOTSagents. 50 SCOTSagents recently graduated in Mumbai. The total number of SCOTSagents in India is 1800, the largest worldwide after the US. “The SCOTSagents training programme increases the professionalism and product knowledge of Scotland amongst the travel trade fraternity. There are six online seminars. It’s a way of increasing product knowledge and sell Scotland better and inspire confidence in the consumer,” said Lal.
The year 2014 is very significant for Scotland in terms of tourism. The Commonwealth Games is taking place in Glasgow from July 23 to August 3, 2014. “India hosted the games the last time, so the Queen’s Baton Relay began it’s journey from New Delhi recently. We are hoping the lure of the games will provide visitors an impetus to come to Scotland. The travel trade in India can buy packages from the games’ travel office for their clients,” informed Lal.
The whole of 2014 is themed as ‘Homecoming Scotland’ with a calender of events – the Ryder Cup will take place in September 2014, the Whisky Festival will take place in May along with other events and festivals.