New Delhi, Feb 18 IANS | 9 months ago

Move over Thailand, Malaysia and the Maldives. The wanderlust of Indian travellers has attracted even countries as far apart as Romania, Tanzania and Peru to promote their country as an attractive travel destination.

"We get very few Indian tourists," sighed Razvan Marc, director Britain, Middle East and India, National Authority for Tourism Romania, told IANS.

"We want to attract more Indian tourists because they want to explore new destinations and we (Romania) have the best scenic and cultural bonanza for them," he added.

Located between central Europe and southeastern Europe, the country with 19.59 million population has a mix of traditional and cultural rhapsody, with vast areas of true wilderness and ever-fresh beauty of the Danube delta to discover.

And who can forget this: Transylvania in central Romania is where Dracula originated.

Similarly, Justice Muunbe, manager community conservation of Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania, said they want people of India to know that there is more to Africa than Kenya and South Africa.

"Indian tourists are not many in Tanzania, but they travel a lot to Kenya and South Africa. We don't offer just safaris, but offer a bouquet of wildlife, nature and culture. You can meet local people, see wild life and do a lot of sightseeing," Muunbe told IANS.

"As the visa is on arrival, it will make travel easy," he added, saying one can meet people from the Maasai tribe, trek to Mount Kilimanjaro and soak in the breathtaking scenic beauty.

Marc and Muunbe were in the capital for the OTM travel trade show, a platform for stakeholders to meet and interact.

According to the Indian tourism ministry, 14.92 million Indians travelled abroad in 2012 against 13.99 million in 2011 and 12.99 million in 2010. These figures are, however, much lower than China, which saw 82 million outbound tourists in 2012, making them the number one global travellers.

For 48-year-old banker Sanjeev Khanna, exploring new places is a passion, and though he has travelled to Europe and Southeast Asia, he is always on the lookout for new destinations.

"Travel fairs help you to connect with private tour operators of foreign countries or their tourism heads. While they are still exploring a setup in the country, they give you an idea about what new they have to offer and what the package is," Khanna told IANS.

"So, I go to these fairs to get the best offers," he added.

This is just what a Greece-based private tour operator is looking for - "potential travellers" who want the "best deals."

"In 2013, Greece had 18 million tourists, though we are a nation of 11 million people. So, you can understand how much people want to visit us. Unfortunately, out of these figures there were only 35,000 Indians," said Alec, who uses only one name, from a private tour company.

"Many Indians think Greece is expensive. We want to break this myth. It is not at all expensive and you can have a romantic three-day holiday in just 200 euros (Rs.17,000)," he added.

While Marc was at the fair to create awareness about Romania, Alec was looking for a tie-up with local tour operators to reach out to more people.

And the common thread, according to Alec, between India and Greece is that they have similar cultures , thus helping in fostering a better tourism relationship.

If Europe and Africa have shown keen interest in India's "potential", Latin America too isn't far behind.

"Come to Peru and you will see (15th century Inca site) Machu Picchu," Jose Torres, general manager of Journey Travel Company, told IANS.

Lamenting the fact that distance between the two continents is a major deterrent for Indian travellers to discover archaeological and historical marvels of this South American nation, Torres is optimistic about seeing more Indian tourists in future.

"If one can travel to the US, why not Peru? It is a great place to be in," he added.

(Posted on 18-02-2014)

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