New York woos Indian tourists, opens office in Mumbai

October 14th, 2008 - 8:20 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, Oct 14 (IANS) In a big push to attract more Indian tourists, New York City’s marketing agency has opened an office in Mumbai and is launching a promotion campaign featuring New Yorkers Padma Lakshmi, Sant Chatwal and Mira Nair.Already, travel to the city from India has more than doubled in the past five years. It grew by 47 percent last year, to 157,000 visitors, generating an economic impact of $266 million. The number is expected to grow to 175,000 this year.

On Monday, NYC & Company, the city’s tourism marketing agency, announced the opening of a tourism and marketing office in Mumbai.

“There has long been a commercial and cultural connection between India and New York City,” George A. Fertitta, chief executive of NYC & Co, who travelled to Mumbai for the opening, was quoted as saying by the New York Times.

“Today, we are extending that bond further by personally inviting all Indian leisure and business travellers to visit New York City in 2009 and beyond.”

New York has a large South Asian community, and many of the Indians visiting the city are friends and relatives of immigrants living in the region.

NYC & Co’s public relations campaign directed at Indian audiences includes videos featuring television show host and cookbook author Padma Lakshmi, hotel developer Sant Chatwal and film director Mira Nair. Padma Lakshmi is the first Indian American to take part in the city’s “Just Ask the Locals” tourism campaign.

The company is also starting an Online Training Academy for the Indian travel trade market to help travel agents and tour operators to package and sell tourism to New York.

Besides, the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting is trying to recruit Indian film companies to produce work in the city.

The Bloomberg administration set itself a target of 50 million annual international visitors to the city by 2012 after a record 46 million visitors came to the Big Apple in 2007.

Although international travellers represent just 19 percent of the total visitors to the city, they account for over 50 percent of total visitor spending.

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