The UK travel industry does not sell India as a broad appeal destination but focuses on a narrow season or destination instead, according to Ajoy Misra, senior vice-president sales and marketing Raj Hotels Resorts and Palaces.
Most travel agents have yet to realise there is year-round tourism in India and the continent also offers luxury, as well as adventure. “We are not selling India in its truest form,” Misra said. “People think there is the peak season, the off season, the good season, the bad season. But India is vast: from the Himalayas, to the beaches, to the forests. We end up with demand being bunched together.”
There is also a perception India does not offer luxury to UK tourists, he said. “India is not just poverty, and cattle on the road and snake charmers. Yes those things exist, but there is a lot else besides. A few companies have begun to package experiences, including luxury ones. However, many agents are stuck in the traditional way of thinking. We are going to carry on fighting that perception.”
Speaking at a World Travel Market debate on how to develop luxury from emerging nations, Misra said Raj Hotels Resorts and Palaces was now running 65 fam trips a year for top journalists, agents and operators from around the world.
Some agents were not selling luxury in the right way, he added. “A 15% discount is not going to sell this kind of luxury product in a day. It’s about adding value and how to enhance that.”
* More WTM 2008 coverage at travelweekly.co.uk/wtm2008