Tourism between India and Türkiye has increased manifold over the years and there is still a huge potential for growth in tourism and other sectors.
Jyoti Mayal, president of the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) suggested that Turkiye and India should develop a visa-free regime to promote tourism.
“Türkiye like India is enriched with culture, heritage, cuisine, and more. It is a huge convergence of east and west which allures the Indian market,” Mayal said in an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency.
She said the market will continue to witness growth “if policies remain liberal and if our political relationships grow stronger.”
Türkiye welcomed over 27,300 Indian tourists in June following the relaxation of the COVID-19-related travel restrictions by Türkiye, the Indian media quoted Türkiye’s Tourism Department in August.
Mayal said that, in addition to tourism, there has been a significant surge in wedding celebrations by Indians in Türkiye due to “liberal policies and quick visa processing.”
Tourism, according to the expert, drives “economic growth, healthier political relationships, greater infrastructure, and strengthens people-to-people connections” if it emerges “both ways as there has to be a balance.”
“We need to build on our strengths and promote experiential tourism in both countries without forgetting the sustainability aspect,” she said.
About increasing people-to-people contacts, Mayal said both nations should develop a visa-free regime to promote tourism.
“Tourism should not have any boundaries. Tourism crosses all barriers, has no language and tourism is all about experiences,” she said, adding: “We need to continue doing roadshows to showcase each other’s products, connect stakeholders, and travel agents to each other, and do effective marketing highlighting our strengths.”
According to Mayal, more collaboration is needed among different industries so that footfalls increase and tourism grows.
“Bleisure, MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences & exhibitions), adventure, wellness, weddings, film tourism, medical, and rural, to name a few, all have great potential and scope for expansion. If we start investing from both sides with mutual cooperation we will surely witness huge growth,” she said.
Mayal said the trend of Indian weddings in Türkiye has gone up.
“We need to bring in more authenticity and ease of catering to Indian needs,” she said, adding that there are some common factors like food, which are already driving this, but there is a scope for improving the existing experience.
She said weddings are “sentiments of celebration, and we can build on each other’s cultures.”
“I believe MICE and weddings definitely need to be incentivized,” she said, adding tourism should be tax-free and/or subsidized.
Mayal said her organization has worked closely with Türkiye Tourism and has done many successful roadshows to demonstrate the importance of tourism, but this must be a continuous process.
“We cannot get complacent as it takes time to build a destination but a very short time to bring it to an end. We need to continue to work together on both sides. Both countries need to work together to get optimum results,” she said.
Mayal emphasized that as India moves toward a 5 trillion-dollar economy, which will converge into a robust market for all industries, there will be an increase in tourism as the country builds more airports and connectivity.
“India is a plethora of beauty, culture, pristine beaches, and snow-clad mountains. No country is as blessed as ours in terms of tourist attractions,” she said. “We need to do aggressive marketing and each state needs to market independently with continuously showcasing the many unique tourism products and destinations.”
She said that there is a need to create Indian specialists globally, especially in countries like Türkiye where Indian tourists are flocking in huge numbers.
“Every Indian abroad is an ambassador of his country. They must talk about their own country while traveling,” she said.