Los Angeles Tourism set up its office in India in August 2019 and went on to conduct a series of programs, collaborating with brands, doing marketing trade campaign and more. Just as the momentum started picking up, the pandemic struck in March 2020. However, we did not allow it to slow us down and kept ourselves busy all during the pandemic. We did webinars and many virtual events and ensured that Los Angeles was kept alive in everyone’s memory. We also redid our branding – new logo and new tagline – Start Your Come Back!
Now that things have opened up, there is a huge surge in demand. Contrary to belief that long haul will take time to pick up, Indians are already travelling to Los Angeles. Rising visa demand is a testament of the same. We had a record number of 62,000 plus student visas granted in 2021 so that automatically goes to show there is a lot of VFR because the parents who have not got the visas would want to go now. Also, there is almost two and half years of visa backlog who are all potential visitors so there will definitely be a huge surge in travellers. Therefore, we need to use this time to first create awareness on the destination, tell them about Los Angeles, so that when they are ready to travel, when they have their visas, they know that Los Angeles should be part of their travel plans.
The advantage with US is that they have a ten year vision and grant a ten year visa, so there is always a possibility that people will do multiple trips. Normally, Indians often have some relative or friend who is in the US, whom they would keep as their base and then do something around the East Coast. California is the hub for IT software where there are a lot of Indians, so people defiantly want to visit their friends so there is a potential segment, which we can tag.
Airlines are just getting back in shape. Vistara just got a permission to fly to the US but I think they’re waiting for a right aircraft. However, there are plenty of connections to Los Angeles and we are forever hopeful of having a direct flight sometime in future. Visas too would get better by the last quarter of the year and we are confident of closing the year on a good note.
The US is open and we’ve taken all the precautions for the safety guidelines. The most important thing for us is the travellers safety, so we are looking at that and we will be checking all the precautions as well, ensuring that it’s going to be a safe entry into LA always.
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