Visit Birmingham, the city’s official leisure tourism body, is currently running a six month training programme with Kuoni Academy for travel agents in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Amritsar. The sessions will raise awareness of Birmingham’s attractions; the city’s central location as a gateway to the rest of the UK; and its direct air links to Asia, following Air India’s commitment to increase its Birmingham-Delhi-Amritsar operation to a daily service from November.
The initiative builds on the rising number of visits to Birmingham from India – with a 71 per cent increase last year, from 8,261 (2012) to 14,131 (2013). The city attracts more visitors from India than any other destination in England outside of London, and is ranked second in terms of total numbers of visitors from India in the last four years.
The aim of the programme, which runs until September, is to train between 200 and 300 travel agents, some of whom already promote the destination, as well as new agents. The workshops will provide a grounding in Greater Birmingham’s tourism offer – including the region’s attractions, culture, heritage, retail and food – as well as the new developments set to transform Birmingham in 2015. These include the £600million redevelopment of New Street station and the new Grand Central shopping complex, anchored by the 250,000 sq ft John Lewis department store, one of the largest outside London.
Visit Birmingham’s Director of Marketing Services, Emma Gray, travelled to India this summer to launch the programme with a delegation that also included representatives from Birmingham Airport and The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
Gray commented: “Approximately 80 per cent of the Indian market book through a travel intermediary, so it made sense to invest time in launching our first training workshops in India to showcase to agents what our region has to offer.
“Birmingham’s profile is growing considerably on the international stage with a significant increase in visitor numbers and influential global publications such as The Times of India and China Daily highlighting the city’s leisure offer. It is clear that we are becoming an attractive holiday and business destination to people in India.