Data from VisitBritain revealed that visits from India in 2013 were up 11 per cent year-on-year, and spend was up 32 per cent to £441m.
Although this means India remains behind China in terms of total value, it now commands the highest volumes of visits to the UK of all BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries, and VisitBritain said it has potential to generate half a million visits to the UK by 2020.
“China grabs the headlines but the Indian market is one of our most loyal and the largest in volume of all of the BRICs,” explained Keith Beecham, acting chief executive of VisitBritain.
“Indian visitors have a higher propensity to travel beyond London, so they are a hugely valuable market in terms of spreading the regional benefits of international tourism across the country.”
India’s new government has pledged to prioritise the India tourism industry, and the rupee has gained in strength, making the India a potentially lucrative market for the European tourism industry.
"Indians are high spenders, and with more families moving towards the upper middle class segment, there will be an upward trend in the number of travellers from India,” said Mr. Guldeep Sahni, presided of the Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI).
In January this year, UKinbound and ETOA – the European tourism association - signed memorandums of understanding with their respective counterparts in India to strengthen the cross-promotional relationship and generate more tourism business.
VisitBritain, UKinbound and ETOA are also hosting an India Market Seminar at Lord’s cricket ground on Tuesday 24 June, which will see figures from across India’s tourism industry discuss the market and opportunities to boost visits to the UK and Switzerland.
Deirdre Wells, CEO UKinbound commented: "Tuesday’s seminar is our first formal gathering since formulating our MOU with OTOAI and it demonstrates the importance of this partnership.
"The commitment of the Indian trade associations travelling to the UK for the event, the high demand from our members causing it to sell out and the collaboration from the UK tourism industry all show the value of the Indian market. We look forward to seeing this partnership strengthen and grow over the year to come."
“We need to find ways of boosting visitor numbers further and this jointly hosted seminar will help the UK industry learn more about exactly what makes Indian visitors tick,” added Beecham.