"Our role is to promote London as the most exciting city on the planet," says James Bidwell, CEO, Visit London. London welcomed 230,000 Indian visitors in 2006. What is more interesting - Indian visitors to London outspent the Japanese - 152 million pounds compared to 134 million pounds Japanese spend. James Bidwell in an e-mail interview with Vaihayasi Pande Daniel, Managing Editor, talks on why Indians love London and its great tourism potential.
How many Indian visitors does London get? Would this be people with Indian passports or people of Indian origin? How does this compare to other nationalities?
In 2006, London welcomed 230,000 Indian visitors to the capital. This was up from 166,000 in 2005 - a 38.6 per cent increase making Indian visitors one of the fastest growing markets. Also for the first time last year, Indian visitors to the capital outspent the Japanese - 152 million pounds compared to 134 million pounds Japanese spend.
India is ranked number 17 in terms of visitor numbers to London. The top 5 visitor markets to London are USA, France, Germany, Spain and Italy.
What are the kinds of the things/activities and places Indian tourists like to do/go to in London? Any particular places they all eventually do land up at (ie what we call Patel points)?
One of the main factors Indian visitors quote when coming to London is to visit family and friends. Other major attractions include the range of shopping offer and London's historic buildings and iconic landmarks. Indian tourists also enjoy visiting places/locations where Bollywood movies have been filmed - London has inspired many Bollywood filmmakers. To assist Indian visitors follow in the steps of their favourite movie stars, Visit London has produced a Bollywood movie map.
What seems to be the average amount they spend in London? How does this compare with other groups?
Indian visitors to the capital spend an average of 660 pounds per trip. This compares to 547 pounds per trip for the Japanese and 630 pounds per trip for Americans, 446 pounds per trip for Italians.
Any idea on where they prefer to shop and what they prefer to shop for?
Indian visitors point to the broad and diverse range of shopping available in London. A number of places that are singled out are: markets, Oxford Street as a shopping destination and Hamley's - the toy store on Regent Street.
And also before they reach? What are these strategies and how do they work?
As the official visitor organisation for the UK capital, our role is to promote London as the most exciting city on the planet, targeting overseas and domestic leisure and business visitors as well as Londoners. Through our marketing campaigns and promotions, Visit London generates over 300 million pounds additional economic benefit for London by promoting the capital in key markets including North America, Japan, Australasia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Ireland and the Netherlands as well as the new emerging markets of India, Russia, China and Brazil.
Visit London spends almost 9 million pounds marketing the capital in overseas. In 2006, London welcomed a record number of overseas visitors to the capital - 15.6 million. The number of Indian visitors also dramatically increased - up 38.6 per cent from 2005 to 2006.
Earlier this year, Visit London announced a number of initiatives to further the UK capital's relationships with the Indian outbound travel industry. We appointed an overseas representative to promote London to the Indian travel trade and consumers. Punam Singh is Visit London's first representative in India and one of only two overseas appointments anywhere in the world.
Any information on the kind of Indians they are? Professionals, businessmen, families?
Many business travellers include leisure as part of their trip to London and bring along family - so certainly visitors tend to be working professionals and their families.
Getting a visa for UK is tough business for genuine Indian tourists who actually have no intentions other than visiting London (ie no immigration plans)? What does the city of London do make certain authentic visitors get their visas to come to the UK?
Feedback we have from Indian visitors is that the steps to attain a visa to visit London has been straightforward - without too much complication. Visit London is working with the Department of Culture Media and Sport and VisitBritain to improve the welcome people receive at airports when arriving in the capital.