Monday, May 29, 2023

Tap Into The Indian Tourism Market

On Tuesday, September 27, 2022, I wrote as follows, to record India’s celebration of Bhutan’s reopening of tourism:

“But for me the silver lining at the end of all the razzle-dazzle and show of brilliance and incomparability, has been the demure event that took place in Jaigaon across the border in India, on 24th September, 2022. The Indian business community across the border celebrated Bhutan’s opening of tourism - with their own brand of celebrations. This was a touching moment - a re-enforcement, if any were needed, of their trust and faith in Bhutan, their joy in our small successes, and their commitment to walk the distance with us - through thick and thin. Proof that they will forgive us our minor quirks, as we are wont to do theirs.”

Today I am so encouraged to see hoards and hoards of Indian tourists flooding our tourist starved streets and hotels and restaurants. They bring respite to that segment of Bhutanese society who really, truly needs it - not the preferred lot who cheat the Bhutanese people blind of our dues and entitlements, through under declaration and concealment and outright defiance.

This is what I have been saying for the past many, many years - TAP INTO THE INDIAN TOURISM MARKET! India has among the world’s highest middle class population - a population group that is the most outwardly mobile. Even in terms of geographical proximity, they are the closest to us.
I have said this before on this Blog - they have so much undeclared cash (black money as it is known) - they do not know what to do with it. Let me tell you a true story of how desperate they are to spend their money that they cannot spend in their own country, freely.

During late 1970’s and early 1980’s I was posted in the Indian city of Calcutta, to handle Bhutan’s exportable surpluses. I had a very rich Indian friend who, one day, ask me to help him do shopping for his sweetheart. We went to a happening place called New Market. In one of the upscale shops there, he began selecting shoes and saris for his girl – all of 30 pairs of shoes and 40 odd pieces of silk saris!

I was shocked!

“Bloody hell!! Why so many?”

“Why not? - she can wear one set a day”

“Still, why can’t you use the money for some useful things instead of wasting it on shoes and saris?”

“I can’t - I can’t build a house, I can’t buy a new car, I cannot donate it to good causes. If I did - the taxman will want to know how I came by the money. I have so much of it, I do not know what to do with it. Spending it on shoes and saris for my girl atleast ensures that I have easy time with her - it keeps her purring happily. This way atleast my money has some use.”

You get the drift?

Lest you forget, Indian Rupee is no less an important foreign currency as the $. We provably need it more than the Greenback.

The trick is - aim at the right pockets - do not scrap the bottom of the pot!

India's MICE market is a huge, huge potential begging to be exploited. No one seems to be thinking of it. It is sad.

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