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1,00,000 Indian tourists expected by 2017 in Mauritius

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Mauritius: MTPA (Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority) had 72,145 Indian tourists from January to December 2015. This is a year-on-year growth of 18%.

“We have  set a target to achieve 100,000 Indian tourists by 2017,” said Robin Ramhit, Destination Marketing Executive, Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA).

“Mauritius is well-positioned as a honeymoon destination among Indian travellers. However, we are now focusing on welcoming high-net-worth Indian travellers along with MICE clientele to Mauritius”, Ramhit shared.

“Currently, MTPA is targeting the pan-India market, but because of the air connectivity Mumbai is the preferred gateway”, said Vivek Anand, Country Manager, India MTPA

MTPA is also planning a triangular package of Mauritius with Singapore for travellers from India, informed Ramhit. “On return from Mauritius, Indians can visit Singapore for shopping, exactly how currently they take a stop over at Dubai. We have a tie-up with Singapore Tourism Board and Changi Airport. Currently, the package is being worked out, because the price is an important factor,” Ramhit said.

“Currently, MTPA is targeting the pan-India market, but because of the air connectivity Mumbai is the preferred gateway”, said Vivek Anand, Country Manager, India MTPA. As part of its trade activities, MTPA is planning to conduct  annual five-city roadshow in August or September this year.

Indians spend on an average of six nights in Mauritius during their visits. Rum tours and museum tours are two of the new products that MTPA is looking at showcasing to the Indian travellers.

Source-travelbizmonitor.com)(pic courtesy: i-do.com.au)

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Cairo’s main souk in the crowded Islamic district, shop owners seek out Indian Tourists with friendly hails of Amitabh Bachchan

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A pyramid in Egypt, VOA

– by Tarun Basu

April 19, 2017: At Khan el Khalili, Cairo’s main souk in the crowded Islamic district, shopowners seek out Indian tourists with friendly hails of Amitabh Bachchan! Shah Rukh Khan! Welcome!! These two actors are by far the most popular Indians in Egypt, a testament to the enormous soft power of Bollywood.

When Bachchan came to Cairo in April 2015 for the Indian Culture Festival, he was mobbed like a rockstar wherever he went. And when he met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, he reportedly remarked in jest that he was so overwhelmed by his fan following in the country he might even think of contesting a presidential election — and perhaps win it!

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With so much goodwill in Egypt for Indians one often wonders why the two countries are not closer partners and why friendship with Egypt is not talked about in India in the same vein as other countries with which New Delhi shares close political, economic and cultural ties.

With the ascent in both countries of two strong leaders, Narendra Modi and Sisi, came a change in the strategic calculus through a series of quick meetings between them — in New York and New Delhi.

The New York meeting, where something evidently clicked between Modi and Sisi, acknowledged historical bonds, found common ground in counter-terrorism cooperation and investment opportunities, and set the ground for future meetings. It was quickly followed by a visit by Sisi to New Delhi for the India Africa Forum Summit and then, within a year, with a state visit where the two leaders talked of working towards robust security cooperation following a major convergence of views on regional and global issues.

India and Egypt shared strong chemistry in the 1950s and 1960s, with close personal and political ties between their independence leaders Jawaharlal Nehru and Gamal Abdel Nasser, founders of the Non-Aligned Movement. But after their deaths, ties slumped with President Hosni Mubarak, who ruled for 40 years, not having the same comfort level with the Indian leadership. Although Mubarak did make a visit to New Delhi in his later years, the turning point in perceptions in many ways came during the short-lived rule of the democratically-elected Muslim Brotherhood and the visit to New Delhi in May 2013 by President Mohammed Morsi.

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Although Morsi was ousted — and arrested — within a month of his return to Cairo, and the visit was criticised by many as ill-timed with New Delhi seen as being a little out of touch with the region’s political realities, the growing importance of India for Egypt was beginning to be realised by its policymakers.

With the Middle East in upheaval and relations with the US looking uncertain, Cairo, that was used to putting all its strategic and economic eggs in the Western and Arab baskets, is looking, like other regional powers, at Asia and, more particularly, China and India. While China is a source of expanding investment in the region, India’s salience as a major economic and geopolitical power has increased in Egyptian eyes after the recent high-level visits and close strategic ties forged by New Delhi with key powers like the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

India has been holding a major multi-city cultural exposition in Egypt, called imaginatively ‘India by the Nile’, bringing in musicians, dancers, artists, street performers, not to mention Bollywood stars, that enhanced significantly the image of India in the Egyptian consciousness.

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Indian companies have found Egypt a good destination for business. Over 50 Indian companies are present in Egypt with an investment of $3 billion, providing employment to about 35,000 Egyptians. And Egypt’s recent discovery of gas, its upward looking economy following a currency float and growing foreign investment have added impetus to growing ties.

Companies like Kirloskar with their water pumps and Dabur and Monginis with their personal care and confectionery products are household names in Egypt, and many firms recognise the Suez Canal area as a potential hub of future expansion because of the country’s economic arrangements in the Arab world, Africa and the European Union. Even though there are only three Egyptian companies in India, bilateral trade has grown 60 percent over the last five years to touch almost $5 billion.

The current thinking in New Delhi is that if Cairo plays its cards right, a stronger Egypt could play a more moderating role and help in restoring regional stability and security. India is therefore investing a lot more in Egypt not only to shore up its profile but also to use the goodwill it builds up in projecting a larger role for itself in North Africa and the Arab world.

With a political foundation of friendship from the sixties India has the ability to tap into popular sentiment and cultural affinity, an advantage that few countries enjoy in Egypt, remarks Sanjay Bhattacharyya, India’s Ambassador in Cairo.

And the ‘India by the Nile’ show is by far the largest such exposition in Egypt by any country here in recent times.

Despite recent terror attacks, India is demonstrating a major vote of confidence in the Egyptian government’s ability to deal with Islamist extremism by not cancelling music and dance shows as part of the festival in Alexandria, one of the two cities where minority Coptic Christian churches were targets last week.

The future of bilateral ties look promising and there is much expectation in Prime Minister Modi, who has shown personal interest in shoring up ties, making a visit there later this year. (IANS)

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South Africa to attract Indian tourists to boost tourism industry

Indians likely to travel African countries more after ease in Visa regulations

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Durban, South Africa Image: Wikimedia Commons

South Africa has identified India as a key focus market for boosting tourism and it will shortly launch an aggressive campaign to attract tourists from there.

South African Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom announced this at the INDABA tourism fair here. He said that the country had received more than 80,000 Indian tourists last year and his ministry planned to dedicate to India a significant part of its advertising budget of nearly $8 million this year, with the objective of boosting significantly the arrivals from India.

“India has a huge potential and our challenge is to see what is needed in order for this market to grow and for us to get a fair share of the huge pool of Indian travellers,” Hanekom told this correspondent.

Indian in Africa Image : Wikimedia Commons
Indian in Africa
Image : Wikimedia Commons

He said Indian travellers felt at home in South Africa as they had a very large population of people of Indian origin, especially in Durban.

“Mahatma Gandhi had also lived here in Durban. Here, just like in India, we have different cultures and different religions living in harmony with one another,” he added.

INDABA, which means gathering in Zulu, has positioned itself as the largest tourism fair in the African continent and attracts participation from all African countries which come to display their new products and services, as tourism is an essential sector for creating employment as well as economic growth in the least developed continent in the world.

“The safari experience is certainly one of the key selling point of Africa. We don’t have the Taj Mahal or some of the incredible sites that you have in India, but here in South Africa, you can be guaranteed to see the Big 5 (Lions, Elephants, Rhinos, Buffaloes and Leopards) in just one, single safari,” Hanekom said.

Tourism to South Africa and other African countries was severely hit by fears arising from the fresh outbreak of Ebola epidemic in West African nations of Liberia, Sierre Leone and Guinea. The market has begun to show signs of recovery, now that the outbreak has subsided.

The minister said that tourists’ fears were misplaced about contracting the virus in South Africa. “In fact, Europeans were much closer to where Ebola was happening than we were in South Africa,” Hanekom said.

Apart from a subsiding Ebola, Hanekom placed his hopes on boosting arrivals from India on the ease of visa regulations for Indians visiting South Africa. Earlier, the visa regulations were strict and it would take up to three weeks for getting permission to travel. In April this year, after Hanekom’s visit to India, the norms have been eased and visas should be easier and quicker to obtain for Indians.

“The problem is that our consulate and embassies were having difficulties in answering and handling the visa demands during the peak travel season in India and it often took up to three weeks for delivering visas. That is simply too long. I am convinced that if we manage to make the visa easier we can double the numbers in a couple of years,” Hanekom explained.

For many Indians, the country is also perceived as an elite and expensive destination just like European countries, but in recent months a weakening Rand has allowed more Indians to visit and spend more.

Another peculiarity of the Indian travellers is that they like to visit several countries on a trip. While in Europe and North America it is simpler due to visa-free travel between nations, it is still a challenge in Africa.

This point was a focus of discussions at the INDABA this year and various African countries have begun looking at how to facilitate such seamless travel in Africa. Hanekom admitted that security and instability issues in some African nations remained an important barrier to visa-free travel within the continent.

The minister also allayed fears of travellers that that some areas in South Africa were unsafe.

Hanneli Slabber, country manager of South Africa Tourism in India, said: “I guess you have to beware of pickpockets anywhere in the world. Indians visiting South Africa enjoy adventure and activities and they buy triple the amount of activities than those from other nations. Indian women are actually leading in terms of numbers and they like the country and feel safe.”

Bukhara Indian Restaurant, Stellenbosch, Africa Image: Wikimedia Commons
Bukhara Indian Restaurant, Stellenbosch, Africa
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Slabber said that now a lot of vegetarian options, including vegan and Jain food, are available in the country and there were several Indian restaurants. “Our cuisine is influenced by Indian curries as well and a lot of South Africans, not necessarily of Indian origin, can cook good Indian cuisine,” he added.

Indian cuisine in South Africa Source: Wikimedia Commons
South Africans selling Samosas and spring rolls
Source: Wikimedia Commons

However, in a blow to tourism from India, the national carrier, South African Airways, facing a shortage of aircraft, has stopped the only direct flights from India (Mumbai) to South Africa, forcing Indian tourists to go for alternatives like Emirates or Qatar with one-stop flights.(IANS)

 

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Locating Desi: A Survey to establish Identity

Political mobilization of the word 'desi' in USA

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An Indian girl. Image Courtsey: food.ndtv.com

By Shubhi Mangla

Kerishma Panigrahi, a student of the New York University is pursuing studies in issues related to religion, race, racial subject formation mainly within the context of South Indian Diaspora. As part of her course, she is currently working on “Locating Latinidad“. The study includes tracing its history, genealogy and constitution as an identity. She has started a survey to know about the personal and political identification of people of South Asian descent in USA for folks who are 18 years or older.

You may take the survey here: Locating Desi

Kerishma says, “How I identify can shift as quickly and as easily as my surroundings shift; depending on where I am and who I’m with. I could be a Gujarati, Oriya, Indian(-American), South Asian(-American), American, desi, “brown”…the list goes on. What I became fascinated by was how intertwined and slippery racial, ethnic, and national identities are and how contingent they can be on one’s surroundings—which makes it even harder to effectively locate”.

What complicated her was the word ‘Desi’. According to her, it is a word which she can feel closer to and politically identify herself with it. With her experience from living among other South Asians in US, she feels that ‘desi’ is more of an informal and comfortable word as compared to South Asian-American. She is curious to know the experience of other folks of South Asian decent about the non-existent  political mobilization of the word ‘Desi’ compared to mobilization of ‘latinx’.

Related link: Indian Diaspora in Holland

According to her, ” ‘Desi’ is also an imperfect term and there are shortcomings that may take away from people’s ability to identify with it; does “desi” have the ability to expand and accommodate this difference? Is there a disparity of identification along age group, migration status, country of origin, multiracial status? How does multiple diaspora (e.g. folks of Indo-Caribbean or Indo-African heritage) effect identification?”

Report prepared by Shubhi Mangla- an intern at Newsgram and a student of Journalism and Mass Communication in New Delhi. Twitter @ shubhi_mangla