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“Incredible India” meets “Norway - Powered by nature”

Last week, Norway India Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NICCI) hosted an event with a Norway-India tourism focus, followed by a garden reception. State Secretary Dilek Ayhan, Loveleen Rihel Brenna, Per Holte and H.E. Debraj Pradhan introduced the audience to a two-way street with a lot of future potential.

“Tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. NICCI wants to end this season by giving our members and invited guests insight in the sector and to join us in exploring the business opportunities”, NICCI Chair Tima Iyer Utne said in her opening address.

The Ambassador of India to Norway, H.E. Debraj Pradhan, gave an introduction to India as a tourist destination, visited by almost 9 million tourists in 2016, contributing to 6% of GDP. Mr. Pradhan promoted India as a round the year destination with 32 World Heritage sites, attractions of both ancient and exotic cultures, and an emerging modern India.

The Ambassador ended his speech by informing that Norway already is on the list of countries eligible to an eVisa to India, which considerably simplifies of the process. Another fact is that his Embassy in Oslo issued 14.000 visas in 2016.

The Chief Guest, State Secretary Dilek Ayhan (Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries) started her speech with a look at the bigger picture: “Trade between our countries remains modest, but we have seen a substantial growth the last ten years”, Ms. Ayhan said.

Moving to the topic of the day, tourism, one of the sectors with a huge growth potential, Dilek Ayhan highlighted the fact that the fastest growing group of tourists visiting Norway are tourists from countries in Asia. Tourism is a prioritized policy area for Ayhan’s Government, earlier this year they presented a White paper on tourism.

To the amusement of the audience, the State Secretary raised the question if last year’s promising 23 percent increase in travel bookings from India, could have been because of the Bollywood blockbuster Shivam, which included scenes from the Atlantic Road and the Geiranger Fjord. Referring to statistics from Switzerland on how major movie productions boost tourism, Ayhan hope there can get in place better incentives for Indian movie productions in Norway.

With her extensive knowledge on both India and Norway, Loveleen Rihel Brenna (CEO Seema AS) gave some views on how Incredible India should be sold in Norway. When it comes to promoting India as a preferred holiday destination and further grow in tourism from Norway, it is according to Ms. Brenna important to understand the Norwegian people’s habits, values and choices.

“We cannot expect Norwegians to understand all aspects of a country of India’s complexity. The most important is always to assure safety. Creating a nuanced picture of India is also of high importance, hopefully also adding new pieces to the picture generally portrayed by the press”, Loveleen Brenna said.

Per Holte, Market Director Tourism Asia and New Developing Markets - Innovation Norway, could inform that the Indian travelers evolve both in terms of hotel consumption, length of holiday and even the local food they are willing to experiment with. He continued telling that the world’s 2nd largest, and youngest population – currently make 4 million annual travels to Europe. This is expected to increase with 15% yearly. According to Mr. Holte, Indian travelers are visiting multiple countries in one trip, hence pan-Scandinavian cooperation in facilitation is crucial.

Following the seminar of tourism was the garden reception hosted by Embassy of India.

Food is a very important part of tourism. After his welcome to the reception, Commercial Councilor Mr. Ponnappan intruduced Ms. Niru Kamur from Masala Magic, that presented the mouthwatering Indian finger food. Ms. Richa Chandra and her group Indian Rhythms assured colors, music and above normal exotic moves in a garden in Oslo.

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