More than 100 distinguished guests from the travel industry braved the elements and congregated aboard the ‘Harbour Ball Room’ for the ‘Know India Seminar’ dinner boat cruise hosted by India Tourism.
The event was graced by the presence of the Consul General of India in Sydney, the Hon. Sunjay Sudhir. He delivered a colourful welcoming speech recounting the famous Jain tale of the group of blind men and an elephant. Each blind man touches a different part of the elephant and has a different experience. He drew similarities from that story to each person’s experience of India, which he said will be contrasting and unique.
Since 2002, the ‘Incredible India’ campaigns have sparked the curiosity about the nation as well as capturing the essence and spirit of India.
Indian tourism is a big and growing business, however these is much room for improvement for Australians considering India as a tourist destination and also vice versa. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi included tourism as part of his ‘5Ts’ strategy signifying its importance. The government is committed to exploring avenues to make India an attractive destination for tourism and trade.
The theme of the evening of course was Indian tourism and the many tour operators that were present exchanged stories and adventures. Whilst the ‘Golden Triangle’ (Delhi, Agra & Jaipur) and the metros (Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai & Kolkata) are the focus of most tour operators, there has been steady growth and interest in other areas such as Kerala house boats or exploring the largely untouched North East States.
Robert Fletcher, director of Active Travel has been travelling to India for over two decades with his wife and organises tour groups to places like Hampi & Nagaland. Others like David Lyons of 18ThirtyFour Tea organise boutique tours to visit India’s tea plantations in Darjeeling and Assam.
The richness and vibrancy associated with travelling to India was narrated by India Tourism Assistant Director Vibhava Tripathi. With India today boasting state of the art world class international airports, easy connectivity, leading hotels and improving infrastructure, there is no better time to visit. “With India, you can visit 365 days of the year,” said Tripathi.
Madhu Mathen, manager of Air India in Australia spoke of the airlines’ daily direct services to India from Melbourne and Sydney. Along with attractive features such as flying on the 787 Dreamliner, getting a generous 30 kg baggage allowance and complimentary onward domestic connections between Delhi and nine Indian cities, getting to India has never been easier.
In between the presentations, a buffet dinner was served along with Bollywood performances including a live interactive Bollywood dance routine that got the audience to their feet. There were also some prizes and a couple of lucky winners received flights to India courtesy of Air India and six nights’ accommodation at some of India’s leading hotels courtesy of the Taj group of Hotels.
Those in the tourism industry already know that there is no better time to showcase India to the rest of the world. From the palm lined Kerala backwaters, to the tea plantations of Darjeeling, from the grandeur of the Taj Mahal and the many opulent palaces of Rajasthan, from the temples of South India to the spirituality of the Ganges and the tranquillity found in the mountains of the Himalayas ‘find what you seek’ and start planning your next visit to ‘Incredible India’.
Published in The Indian Sun, Sydney