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ITB Berlin News 2019 - Day 3 Edition

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12 NEWS BROUGHT TO YOU BY “Incredible India” can go even bigger than 10 million arrivals A wide range of attractions is driving interest in India, while infrastructure developments and the launch of e-visa is pushing the sub-continent giant up the world traveller’s list of priorities. At the Incredible India press conference, Yogendra Tripathi, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, said that “India as a destination has a great opportunity to grow”. Introducing the session, he said the country currently welcomes 10 million visitors a year but stressed that “this is just a drop in the ocean. With the increased investment that the tourism sector is receiving from the national and state governments of India, we can go a lot higher.” Tripathi said India can offer “any facet of tourism you are looking for. All parts of the country have great heritage sites, but there are also cultural, spiritual and adventure opportunities. With our investment in digital and transport, we can offer visitors a seamless experience.” Meenakshi Sharma, Additional Director General, Ministry of Tourism, then gave a detailed presentation to support Tripathi’s claims. “India accounts for 1.2% of world tourism in terms of share but it is getting stronger every year as our infrastructure improves,” she said. “We have visitors coming from all over the world and there is also strong domestic tourism growth – domestic has doubled in the last six years.” One positive indicator, she said, is that India’s earnings in world tourism receipts is 2.1% – suggesting that visitors are spending freely once they arrive in India. Sharma said there as so many attractions in India – beaches, wildlife, ecotourism, wellness – that it can be hard to prioritise. “So for ITB Berlin we are focusing a lot of our efforts on India as The Land of the Festivals.” She said that infrastructure developments are also helping to drive tourism, including an improved aviation network. Of 125 airports, 32 are international and there is a target to double the total airport count to 250 by 2020 – opening up more of the country. She added: “Our e-visa has been a game-changer, and there have also been various traveller-first policies that are supporting our tourist industry growth” Hall 5.2b / Stands 205, 205a NINE DAYS OF WORSHIP, FINE FOOD AND DANCING Dancers celebrate the Gujarati festival Navratri The Gujarati festival Navratri is billed by local people as the world’s longest dance festival. Translated into English as ‘a nine-day celebration’, worship and revelry go hand-in-hand and the celebrations make for a striking spectacle. The religious aspect of the festival sees nine manifestations of the Goddess Amba worshipped on each of the nine nights of Navratri. Navratri is a powerful tourist attraction. Over the nine nights people take to the streets in traditional dress and dance anywhere and everywhere. Everyone dances to the melodic Gujarati folk songs, and tastes the fine food of Gujarat, including delicacies Jalebi, Fafda and other traditional savouries. The Hindu festival of Navratri, celebrated in the Tamil month of Purattasi across India’s westernmost state of Gujarat, is held this year from 29 September to 7 October Hall 5.2b / Stands, 205, 205a ITB BERLIN NEWS • Friday 8 th March 2019

BROUGHT TO YOU BY NEWS 13 Medical tourism now bringing new benefits to local people Reflecting the global increase in people willing to cross borders for treatment, the fast-growing medical tourism sector is in high profile at ITB Berlin 2019. ITB Berlin’s CSR and medical tourism officer Rika Jean-François told delegates at the opening of the Medical Tourism Pavilion that the two-way benefits of the industry were becoming increasingly clear. The arrival of international patients was boosting hospitals and clinics, which, in turn, were able to offer their enhanced specialist services to local people. “Governments and private industry really need to work together to bring this sector forward,” she said. She cited an increase in destinations for medical tourists, particularly in eastern Europe. And she noted that for the first time India is represented in the pavilion, pointing to a growing emphasis on traditional medicine and treatments. From relatively niche beginnings, medical tourism has evolved into a global industry currently worth around €100bn a year. Overall, the market is expected to expand by 25% a year over the next decade. A highlight of the formal opening was the publication of the annual list of the world’s topten best hospitals for medical tourists, as ranked by the Medical Travel Quality Alliance (MTQUA) and announced by its president and founder, Julie Munro. Number one this year is the Clemenceau Medical Center in Beirut, Lebanon, followed by the Anadolu Medical Center in Istanbul, Turkey Hall 21b Akbar Al Baker (centre) at the Qatar Airways briefing Qatar Airways: growth in adversity Qatar Airways continues to grow and launch new products, despite the ongoing blockade of the country, declared Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker at a press conference in Berlin. Setting a defiant tone at the airline’s traditional meeting with the ITB media, Al Baker said the Qatari carrier was expanding in the face of a difficult environment caused by the “illegal blockade” of the Gulf state. recline system, additional legroom, dual trays, 34 cm widescreens and fast-charging USB ports. “We not only change our seats but enhance the flying experience with a new catering concept and additional entertainment,” explained Akbar Al Baker. A new in-flight dining experience ‘Quisine’ will bring more choices with regional specialties and larger portions. Passengers will enjoy also 4,000 hours of entertainment and high-speed wi-fi. “We are losing money as the blockade can add up to two hours more flying time to our routes. But we show strong resilience,” he said. The airline presented its new Economy Class which provides enhanced comfort to travellers. Seats offer an innovative 19-degree Qatar Airways announced a series of new routes, from Doha to Davao, Izmir, Langkawi, Lisbon Malta, Mogadishu and Rabat. Al Baker promised more announcements were on their way Hall 2.2 / Stands 207, 208 ITB BERLIN NEWS • Friday 8 th March 2019

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