India’s growth story has been talked about enough in media and many are aware of the country’s untapped potential. Even the recent scams and scandals of unimaginable scale haven’t halted the country’s rapid development. This is leading to trends earlier unheard of, especially in the urban landscape. Incredible real estate development within a few years, malls and premium shopping spaces providing an experience that can make an old chap also salivate, and more hotels and entertainment avenues are mushrooming in cities and suburbs; all point towards modern India’s willingness to spend.
Before establishing its connection with wine, let me tell you about this travel fair I recently attended. A business to consumer event, HT Destinations facilitated communication between suppliers and consumers of travel services in an informal setup. Although smaller in scale than I expected, the event saw participation from prominent members of the trade such as Cox & Kings and SOTC. Also present were a few luxury travel providers who are attracting a niche audience with some exotic destinations on offer.
Growing tourism, especially outbound, is an encouraging development in the urban setup and is another addition to the big trends, mentioned at the beginning of this post. According to the provisional statistics of the Indian government, more than 14 million Indian nationals travelled abroad in the year 2011, an increase of roughly 10% from previous year. These figures must convince anyone in the travel business to capitalise on the rising aspirations & travel needs of the spending populace. The two day event seemed to have done just that.
From a winelover’s perspective doing his bit to introduce more Indians to wine, it was encouraging for me to visit this fair. Destinations such as Australia, New Zealand and major wine producing European countries featured high in the popularity list, which means that it isn’t easy to neglect wines in one’s itinerary while visiting some of these countries. We’ll see more and more people getting interested in wines, albeit slowly, as tourism to these places grows. Indians are good adaptors especially when it comes to western habits, a phenomenon evident in the large English speaking, Hollywood inspired, Denims wearing urban audience. Such travellers upon their return would look to repeat their experience in India and can thus create a wine culture even if it begins at a considerably small level.
There is an increasing audience demanding wine tastings and tours in their plan, one travel firm owner told me. According to him, they would normally include Yarra Valley if someone’s visiting Melbourne or Hunter Valley for Sydney bound tourists, to include special requests in their itineraries.
Allways Travels, a marketing and travel services firm focusing on luxury, offers specialised wine tours to Tuscany, was also present at the event. They might add more such destinations in the near future, based on the feedback from clients.
Where wine tourism within the country is concerned, Sula leads by example. They’ve shown how a well established wine brand can further strengthen its hold in the market through wine tourism. Regular wine tours/tastings within the beautifully built premises, suit all requirements from leisure to learning about wines. In addition to complementing its business activities further, Sula is also helping build an interest around wines through such endeavours. One can expect more wine companies to follow suit soon.
Coming back to the fair, it concluded last Sunday and I feel that we need more of such platforms regularly. Initially,wine might not be a core proposition at such events but it’ll encourage an exchange between the players involved with wine, directly or indirectly, and the end consumer. If you are a travel professional based in India reading this, please think of including wine related activities in your offering the next time you exhibit at such an event. How else do you expect the ‘aam aadmi’ to get hooked on to this mystical beverage?