Culture secretary’s passage to India to attract tourists

Culture secretary Karen Bradley visited India to meet key representatives from the Indian travel market and “bang the drum” for British tourism.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport said that India is a “key priority”, and VisitBritain expects the number of visits from Indian tourists to grow from 415,000 in 2016 to 531,000 by 2020.

Last year the Indian tourism market was worth £433 million to the UK economy, with the average Indian visitor spending more than £1,000.

Bradley (pictured) met senior representatives in India, from firms such as British Airways, Cox and Kings, Thomas Cook India Ltd, Mercury Travel Ltd, and, to discuss how the UK government and VisitBritain can support tourism growth from India.

England and Wales are hosting the Cricket World Cup in 2019 and this has been earmarked as an important event that can encourage cricket-loving Indian visitors to visit Britain.

Bradley said: “India is forecast to be the world’s fastest growing major economy over the next five years, sparking a huge rise in outbound travel.

“It is vital that we capitalise on our strong relationship with India to make Britain the number-one European destination for Indian holiday and business visitors in the coming years.

“The cultural ties between the UK and India span centuries and our countries both benefit from shared ideas, institutions and technologies.

“As we prepare to leave the EU, it is a fantastic opportunity to further strengthen this special relationship and boost travel between India and the UK.”

Sally Balcombe, VisitBritain chief executive, added: “We know that visitors from India are coming in increasing numbers, and [they] rate Britain for its interesting and exciting contemporary culture and its outstanding natural beauty.

“By continuing to showcase the incredible experiences on offer and working with regional partners such as Cox and Kings to extend our reach, we will inspire more visitors from India to discover for themselves all there is to see in our nations and regions.”

In February, the UK and India agreed to ease restrictions on the number of scheduled flights between the two countries, removing limits from key Indian cities including Chennai and Kolkata.

The culture secretary was visiting India to mark the UK-India Year of Culture, announced in 2015.