Indian Tourists

A television cameraman shoots video of tourists posing with the wax figure of Shah Rukh Khan at Madame Tussauds New York. The U.S. government is working on a series of initiatives to woo tourists from India to come to the United States. (Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)

KOLKATA — Stating that Indian visitors in the U.S. tend to stay for longer periods and spend more during their stay compared to U.S. residents visiting India, a U.S. official Nov. 23 said his government has taken a bouquet of initiatives to attract more Indian tourists.

"India ranks 11th in U.S. in terms of number of visitors but in terms of tourism export market, it ranks 6th because there is a trend of Indian visitors staying much longer duration there. So an average Indian tourist tends to spend more during his or her trip to the U.S.," Principal Commercial Officer at the U.S. Consulate General Jonathan Ward said at a conference in the 6th edition of Travel East organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry business chamber here.

Ward said the tourists data analysis suggests 38 percent of Indians visit the U.S. with the primary purpose of business while another 28 percent go to meet friends and families living there.

Eighteen percent of Indian visitors travel with the primary purpose of spending vacations while the purpose of the remaining 16 percent can be attributed to miscellaneous other reasons.

Noting that the number of Indian tourists has been steadily increasing in the recent years, Ward said the U.S. government wants to continue the momentum by reaching out to tour operators to increase their knowledge.

"U.S. government has introduced a public private partnership named Brand U.S.A. in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Commerce that conducts tour operator briefings about different U.S. destinations once a year in India. It also provides a certification program for the Indian tour operators that wishes to specialize in U.S. tourism and takes them to U.S.A. in familiarization trips to the U.S.," he said.

"Then there are 600 private sector organizations, state level governments, cities, several airlines and hotel chains together working towards the enhancement of tourism. The individual destinations may also have their own FAM programs. Cities like New York, (and states like) California and Florida have their own office in India that works in this regard," he said.

Regarding the challenges of tourism between the two countries, he pointed out that distance, travel time and cost were the major factors and said an increase in the number of flights as well as more direct flight between the two countries is necessary to address the issues.

"The challenge of tourism between India and the U.S. is distance and time which cannot change quickly. But the issue of cost can change with the availability of more flights and direct flights between the two countries," Ward noted

He also said the U.S. government has increased the number of VISA offices in India for the convenience of tourists.

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