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BW Businessworld

'If We Could Get One Indian Wedding, Our Budget Is Complete'

Nevada has opened a tourism promotion office in India. Initial focus is on Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Bengaluru

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Nevada Lieutenant Governor and Chairman of Nevada Commission on Tourism, Mark Hutchison, was New Delhi to promote Nevada Tourism (Travel Nevada) in the January 29-31 SATTE travel trade show. Hutchison was elected as a state senator in 2012 and as the Lieutenant Governor in 2014.

He spoke to BW Businessworld about his maiden trip to India and his expectations from Indian travel market.

Edited Excerpts:

Nevada has opened an office in India, your second office in Asia after South Korea. Why did you prefer India over other Asian countries?
We opened our first office in China 12 years ago, but right now we do not have any office in China. We chose India over other Asian countries because India's tourism is booming. The middle-class is growing in terms of expenditure and leisure and is quite huge in India.

There are 50 million passport holders in India and the people want to travel internationally and all the reports suggest that America is a hot favourite destination among them. This seems to be a really great opportunity for us to come to India and want people to visit Nevada as it is the ground floor of the opportunities.

What is the significance of tourism in Nevada’s economy?
Tourism is very much important for the economy of Nevada as it provides livelihood for the majority of the people there. One out of three jobs is directly or indirectly linked to the tourism industry. We take it very seriously and are here to promote international tourism and India is natural fit for us.

Who will benefit more with the opening of your trade office?

We think both. The people of Nevada will benefit more in meeting with Indian tourists and learn a lot about India. It will be a sharing of culture, relationship and opportunities for the exchanges that is going to last for decades.

There is no direct flight to Las Vegas. Will you push for it?
Definitely, I would love to see a direct flight from New Delhi to Las Vegas. We have some beautiful cities in United States and "Brand USA", our partner, is looking into the matter.

When we think of Nevada, we could only imagine glitzy casinos. What else is there for tourists?

We have Cowboy Country, Reno-Tahoe Territory, Pony Express Territory, which also houses Highway 50, one of the loneliest highways of the world, Nevada Silver trails and Indian Territory among the top visited places in Nevada. And those who want entertainment can visit Las Vegas, which is also known as the "Entertainment Capital" of the world.

Any particular target set for India?
We received 45,000 and 63,000 Indian tourists in 2012 and 2014 respectively. We would love to receive a close to over hundred thousand visitors this year. India has been a very attractive market for us and we jokingly say that if we could get one Indian wedding, our entire budget for a year is complete.

After the attacks in Paris, the tourism industry has suffered. How could we ensure seamless travel as tourists hate too much of frisking at airports?
Las Vegas and the state of Nevada take security very seriously. Tourists do not want to get frisked and looked down upon. Las Vegas and Nevada have so much of international tourist arrivals and we are very accustomed to that as it is our number one industry.

We will not thrive as a state, if we do not welcome visitors; tourists need not to worry about getting frisked at the airports or anywhere else in Nevada as we are so sensitive to that issue.

What response have you received in India?
The response has been terrific in India. There is a real opportunity for us to follow the model that we used in China 12 years ago.

How has been your experience in India?
This is my first trip to India and had a tremendous experience here. People are warm, engaging, kind and loving.

How will your tourism office help potential visitors?
We have some best employees to facilitate the visitors. We are now concentrating on Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Bengaluru. We are also in talks with the tour operators to build an itinerary and also taking the advantage of "Brand USA" in India.

Who do you think is going to win the presidential race of 2016 in America?
I am biased and want Marco Rubio, who is a state senator from Florida, to win the Presidential race. I am the state wise campaign manager for him.

Tags assigned to this article:
Las Vegas nevada tourism Mark Hutchison