Skift Take

U.S. officials are hoping that Asian tourism will continue to be a boon to the domestic travel industry, and driving tourism from India is the next step. A thriving Indian middle-class will only help accelerate outbound tourism growth.

For the last year, U.S. officials and members of the tourism industry have engaged in a partnership with China, aimed at better educating Chinese travel agents and connecting U.S. tour providers with the right Chinese travelers.

Chinese travelers are core to Brand USA’s goal of bringing 100 milling visitors to the U.S. by 2021. But China alone can’t make up for the shortfall in tourism from U.S. neighbors like Canada and Mexico.

Next year, Brand USA and other U.S. officials with revisit the goal of driving tourism from Asian countries through a similar partnership with India.

During the Obama administration’s recent visit to India, a tourism partnership was announced following a meeting between President Obama and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi.

“Recognizing their mutual goal of strengthening tourism and people-to-people ties, [Obama and Modi] intend to renew efforts for enhanced cooperation in promoting two-way tourism,” reads a memo from the U.S. Department of State released following the meeting. “They noted the potential of this engagement to advance bilateral trade in travel and tourism services, including through the sharing of best practices and organizing promotional activities in this sector. Potential topics for engagement include best practices in tourism administration and marketing, public-private partnerships, travel and tourism statistics, diversification of travel and tourism expertise, niche markets, and promotional activities.”

Reports from the World Travel & Tourism Council bear out how important India may become to U.S. inbound tourism. In 2016, India rated 16th globally in terms of visitor exports, generating $19.5 billion in tourism spending. The U.S. Department of Commerce projects tourism from India will increase by 47 percent from 2014 to 2020, totaling 1,414,000 visitors in 2020.

Information from the U.S. Census suggests there are now 3.4 million Indian Americans living in the country, including those who identify as multiracial. This is an increase from about 2.8 million in 2000.

Demographic factors inside India also favor the country’s rise as a global tourism force.

“India, within five years, will be the youngest country in the world by age population,” said Anne Madison, Brand USA’s chief strategy and communications officer, during the group’s most recent quarterly board meeting. “It’s a big advantage for us to market to those travelers… you’re seeing a huge growth in the [free and independent traveler] and [meetings and incentives] sectors. These travelers are just so excited.”


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Tags: china, india

Photo credit: India could become the next major Asian market to embrace tourism to the U.S. A Festival of Colors celebration — the largest in the Western Hemisphere — at Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple in Utah is pictured here. Steven Gerner / Flickr

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