BRAND USA will introduce an online education certification programme for Indian travel consultants by early next year.
A similar programme to create greater awareness of the US’ destinations and products has already been developed for European markets.
Said Jay Gray, vice president – global partnership development, Brand USA: “Travel trade education is a key part of our strategy in India. The programme is much more social network-oriented and is in conjunction with fam trips. For instance, when a travel consultant is on a fam trip to the US, he can upload photos and share experiences on this site.”
“We are planning several mega fam trips for Indian consultants. The uniqueness is that the trips will be consistent with how a consumer travels. We will have a multi-state itinerary instead of just focusing on one particular US destination. Hence when a consultant talks about the US, it will be a holistic view,” added Gray.
The marketing organisation recently concluded its second India travel mission that covered Mumbai and New Delhi. It will also soon introduce a consumer campaign that focuses on the leisure segment.
Around 725,000 Indians visited the US in 2012 compared to 663,000 in 2011. There was a two per cent drop in VFR traffic from India in 2012, while FIT traffic increased two to three per cent. Brand USA is targeting one million Indian visitors by 2015.
However, air links remain a challenge.
Tom Kiely, executive vice president, Tourism San Francisco Travel Association, said: “We would like to have a nonstop link from New Delhi or Mumbai to San Francisco. We have spoken to Jet Airways, Air India and United Airlines, and are hoping that some announcements in this regard will be made in the near future.
“Last year, 65,000 Indians visited San Francisco, double the number in 2010. We are expecting it to further increase significantly by end-2013.”