STIC Travel Group India is setting up its first overseas office in Singapore to capture a slice of Asian outbound to India and bring more Indian tourists to this region.
“We would like to expand in Asia first before expanding in Europe and Africa,” said founder chairman Subhash Goyal, who is also president of the Indian Association of Tour Operators.
Having organised its first fam trip for Singapore and Malaysian agencies in September, the B2B marketing office will further support agencies by providing customised programmes and helping with airline seat blocks.
“If we feel that an agency needs brochure support, we can also link them up with state NTOs,” added Goyal.
In addition to its FIT business, STIC is, for the first time, running fixed departures of 20-30 pax out of Singapore from December to March.
About 60 per cent of STIC’s inbound business to India comes from longhaul markets like the US, Europe and Australia, a percentage that should shift by the end of next year to a more balanced 50-50.
“A lot of travel agencies collaborating with us for this winter season have not promoted India before,” said Singapore-based director - group business development, Richa Goyal Sikri, adding that Asian markets such as Indonesia, the Philippines and South Korea are being targeted. “We want to do yoga and Ayurveda programmes as well as Buddhist tours.”
While the initial focus for the office has been Asian outbound, STIC also intends to grow its share of Indian inbound to the region from next year. Using Singapore as a base, there could be combinations with Brunei, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Goyal Sikri revealed that the company would concentrate on customised itineraries for FITs and smaller groups, featuring off-the-beaten-track sights.
“For example, every Saturday, all fire stations in Singapore have an open house. People don’t know that…For an Indian family to be able to give their child an experience of a fire station, it’s something they would not even think of.
“Singapore is already such an established destination for Indians and most end up doing a typical circuit. But Singapore has so much more to offer…Why can’t we have more repeat travellers to Singapore (the way Thailand has)?”