India beckons at world’s largest travel fair

March 14th, 2009 - 11:43 am ICT by IANS  

By Clive Freeman
Berlin, March 14 (DPA) At the world’s largest travel fair in the German capital, India’s travel industry is promoting traditional remedies for those stressed out by the global financial crisis.Buoyed by the success of its “Incredible India” promotion campaign, Indian travel officials this year are focusing on spa treatments and rural tourism.

The sub-continent presented itself in a two-storey exhibition stand designed like an Indian palace at the ITB travel fair. The exhibition kicked off mid-week, with 11,098 tourism industry exhibitors from 187 different countries.

Leena Nandan of the Indian tourism ministry explained what made the country a popular destination for spas and health therapies.

“On the one hand, we have advanced medical facilities in the country, on the other we are blessed with traditional spa methods and processes which have existed for centuries,” Nandan said.

“Methods like yoga and ayurveda are gaining popularity,” Nandan added. “We want to tell the world that Indian tourism today offers all kinds of remedies from stress.”

In recent years Europeans have been heading to India to seek treatment for conditions such as arthritis, rheumatic and degenerate disorders, sports and spinal injuries and also digestive diseases.

A.M. Anvar, of the Punarnava Ayurveda Hospital in Kerala, on India’s southwestern coast said: “We have a lot of patients coming to us from Germany.”

“Our facilities are world-class and the treatment is five times cheaper than what you would get in Europe,” Anvar said.

Plush Indian hotels, palaces and camps in Rajasthan competed for attention at the fair. Gaj Singh, of Alsisar Hotels in the northern city of Jaipur said adventure tourism was taking off in the region.

“We have a lot of places opening off the beaten track,” Singh said, adding that people were “going to far off places, and getting involved in sports and camel safaris”.

“Rural tourism and cooperatives are developing,” Singh added, since people wanted “to visit the real, rural Rajasthan”.

Entrepreneur Ranjit Sinh Parmar from Ahmedabad said: “The ITB is important for us.”

“Central Europe rates among the top five tourist markets into India,” Parmar said. The main other markets were Britain, France, the US and Canada.

But he said not all tourists came from abroad. “In India we also have a very large domestic market that is quite vibrant,” Parmar added.

The five-day travel show at Berlin’s Funkturm exhibition grounds opens Saturday to the public.

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