Tourism Flanders (Belgium) is strengthening its marketing initiatives in the Indian market in view of the encouraging outbound travel trends to Western Europe. While Flanders is a relatively new destination for Indian outbound travellers, its Tourism Board is now raising awareness about the destination and supporting the travel trade to create and promote different itineraries for the region.

“Flanders has a lot to offer to Indian tourists: historic art cities, Flemish cuisine, art and culture, shopping, diamonds, as well as fashion. We want to channel all our activities in introducing these segments to the Indian market. An important event in the coming years will be the commemoration of World War I, which will start in 2014. World War I witnessed a significant participation by Indian soldiers as part of the Commonwealth Forces,” said Geert Bourgeois, Vice-Minister-President of the Government of Flanders.

In 2011, Indian arrivals to Flanders grew by 14 per cent. “This is despite the challenges of the contracting global economic situation. We expect to sustain positive growth in 2012 as well. We are mainly targeting Delhi and Mumbai. Besides these primary source markets, we have also expanded our outreach to key secondary cities in the Indian market,” said Peter De Wilde, Administrator-General, Tourism Flanders

Besides pure visitor arrivals, Tourism Flanders is also targeting to enhance the visitor experiences by encouraging tour operators to use Brussels as a Gateway for their European itineraries, by leveraging on its connectivity to other popular destinations in European Union.

Earlier this year, Tourism Flanders conducted a nationwide survey to study the Indian outbound travel market. The study targeted at 765 consumers and 417 travel trade professionals included trade preparedness in addressing emerging outbound travel trends, destination perceptions, travel motivators and channels influencing the travel planning process. The key findings reveal that most of the survey participants associate destination Flanders with Belgian chocolates.

nivedita.ganguly@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on November 2, 2012)
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