After mouse, it’s mice

The Andhra Pradesh government has set up a convention bureau to tap into the high-revenue convention and meetings tourism traffic. In 2009, just 8 per cent of the 7.6 lakh international and 2 crore domestic tourists who visited Hyderabad, came to attend conventions and exhibitions.

Martin Sirk, CEO of ICCA was one man impressed with what Hyderabad has to offer.

“It is very positive,” he says. “To give you an idea, Brazil has 165 convention bureaux, Mexico has over 150. So every city is chasing business, domestically and internationally. So India has taken a positive step in the right direction. If they get it right here in Hyderabad, it will be copied from Delhi to Chennai.”

When it comes to domestic tourism, Andhra Pradesh has God on its side and that explains why it is on top of the charts. Some 129 million domestic tourists visited Andhra Pradesh in 2009 making it the number one tourist destination in India. At least 75 million of them were pilgrims to Tirumala-Tirupati.

Tourism secretary Jayesh Ranjan says despite attempts to develop tourist destinations around Tirupati like Horsley Hills, those travelling to Tirumala remain steadfast and focussed only on the Lord’s darshan. This has meant hill station and beach tourism around Tirupati hasn’t quite succeeded the way it was hoped and the tourist numbers haven’t translated into substantial revenues for the tourism sector.

But while God brings tourists to his abode, God’s own country doesn’t score too high on numbers. Despite the deceptive hype, Kerala┬áreceived just 15 million domestic tourists in 2009. Perhaps time to redefine which is truly God’s own country? !!

What worries Andhra Pradesh is that it is nowhere near the most favourite destination for international visitors. With 7.67 lakh foreign tourists in 2009, it ranks seventh in the country, followed by Kerala at 5.48 lakh. It is Andhra’s neighbour Tamilnadu that attracts the maximum foreigners to its land, 23 lakh plus last year. Neighbours envy, owners pride !

But even as Hyderabad is being pitched internationally as the next big thing, as a MICE destination, officials are keeping their fingers crossed. Politicial turmoil over Telangana can spell doom for the numbers and dent Brand Hyderabad.

The Pied piper’s flute may just seem a bit out of tune, in that case.