India is betting on roadshows and the appeal of alternate therapies like yoga and ayurveda to draw in more tourists from the US, whose numbers have swelled past those from the UK — the other big revenue earner for Indian tourism. The country conducted its ‘Incredible India’ roadshows in New York and Chicago last month which were presided over by tourism minister KJ Alphons.

India welcomed more than 1.4 million US tourists in 2017 — which was up 6% from a year ago and higher by about a quarter from 2014. In comparison, tourist arrivals from the UK stood at 986,296 in 2017 — up 4% from a year ago and higher by 17.6% from 2014 — indicating that appetite for Indian tourism remains strong among Americans.

According to officials, the issuing of e-visas and growing business between India and the US have boosted growth of American tourist arrivals.

ROADSHOWS AROUND THE US

“We plan to flood overseas markets with new promotional videos of yoga and ayurveda,” said Alphons. “We had about 25 tour operators in the delegation who made presentations on India and interacted with the tour operators there and covered New York, Chicago, Houston and St Louis in the US last month.”

An official familiar with the development said St Louis and Houston are new markets which generated a good response and the strategy is to tap newer markets. “We do roadshows directly or indirectly with the trade organisations, but this time, the tourism minister himself led the roadshows.

There is a big case of looking at Tier-II cities to drive growth in the US,” he said. Another official said, “The US was one of the earliest countries to be included under the e-visa programme. UK came in quite late. There is improvement in direct connectivity in flights to the US and the growing business between India and the US has also contributed to the numbers.”

NEW MARKETS OF TOURISM

In April, US was the second biggest source market for Indian tourism after Bangladesh, with an 11.2% share of the total foreign tourist arrivals. In 2015, India had received about 1.2 million US tourists and 867,601UK tourists. “There are a series of activities which we are undertaking as part of the India-US strategic and commercial dialogue. Tourism is one of the verticals under that,” said an official.

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