India Shuts Down Several Tourism Offices Overseas
Indian tourism offices have been shut down in places such as Toronto, Paris, Milan, Amsterdam, Sydney and Johannesburg.
The Indian Ministry of Tourism office in Toronto was the latest one to close operations last week after the government issued directions to shut down some of its overseas offices earlier this year. The Toronto office, which worked as a bridge between India and Canada for nearly 58 years, has moved its operations to New York, the Hindustan Times reported.
The New York office will handle matters relating to representation of India across Canada, as the Los Angeles office was also shut down. “It’s a part of our restructuring exercise. We feel that our office in New York will cater to our needs in Toronto,” Meenakshi Sharma, additional director general, Ministry of Tourism, was quoted as saying by the publication.
The employees of the Toronto office, who worked to promote India as destination for Canadians in advertisements in public transports and dailies, received communication in this matter by mid-March, the report added.
“Now, we will perhaps have 7-8 hubs where we will have our presence through these foreign offices,” Rashmi Verma secretary, Ministry of Tourism, had said earlier. “In rest of the countries, we will be having India Tourism Marketing Representatives (ITMR), and they will be carrying out work under direction of these hubs, which we will be creating in our key markets. Also, these hubs will be engaging PR agencies, who will be working in some of these key markets and emerging markets.”
India Tourism offices in Paris, Milan and Amsterdam have also been closed, and Frankfurt will now serve as the European hub. Singapore, on the other hand, will act as the hub for Australasia region while Dubai will cater to the Middle East. Offices in Sydney and Johannesburg was also closed down as part of the global cost cutting and rationalization measure undertaken by the Ministry of Tourism, the HT report added.
The move is also being attributed to factors such as lack of senior officials in key positions, inability of current staff to adapt to requirements of changing markets, and, most importantly, the question on the viability of having physical tourist offices in the age of internet, according to Indian Link.
The development was met with disappointment in the affected countries, especially since it comes at the heels of increase in global travel trends. The number of Canadians visiting India was 259,017 in 2011 and the provisional figures show that the number increased to 338,925 for 2017. Indians visiting Canada increased from 139,213 to 190,565 in the same period.
Since an increase has been seen in inflow of tourists from Russia, an office will be opened in Moscow, the ministry had said.