Birmingham’s new Air India flight, now operating four times weekly between Birmingham Airport and Delhi, will see improved services for visitors as the city looks to build its growing Indian tourist market.
With some 13,500 people visiting Birmingham from India each year, the West Midlands remains the most popular region outside of the south-east for Indian tourists.
The newly launched Air India service will help the city to boost its share of the lucrative South Asian visitor market, fuelled by India’s growing middle class who will take an estimated half a million tourist trips to Britain each year by 2020.
As home to nearly 65,000 residents of Indian ethnic origin, visiting friends and relatives currently represent nearly half of Indian visitors to the city.
With partners, Marketing Birmingham is working to build on this market, raising the city’s profile overseas as a tourism destination through targeted campaigns and attendance at key trade shows.
Neil Rami, chief executive, Marketing Birmingham – which operates leisure tourism programme Visit Birmingham – said: “Birmingham has a proud reputation as one of the most diverse cities in Europe and is home to a large, rapidly growing Indian population.
“With friends and families representing a large proportion of visitors, we are now looking to grow the number of Indian tourists, who are typically keen to travel to destinations with a wealth of history, culture and good quality food and drink.
“Securing a direct flight route to the Indian capital is a major step for Birmingham, and the result of much hard work by citywide partners to promote the area’s potential for the airline.
“News of Air India’s investment comes at a time when Birmingham’s international standing is at an all time high.
“We must now continue to develop our global profile – promoting the city overseas is vital to securing more international routes and building the city’s reputation as a European hub for tourism.”
Attracting new international air routes is part of the city’s ongoing strategy to build on the record 33.8million visitors that came to Birmingham in 2012.
The city’s strategic marketing partnership has worked with Birmingham Airport at events such as Routes Asia in Mumbai to position Birmingham as an ideal destination for global airlines.
The new Boeing 787 ‘reamliner service – the first of its kind outside the capital – will see up to 1,024 additional passengers travel to Birmingham each week.