Bruce Bucknell, British Deputy High Commissioner, Kolkata spoke to India Outbound about their plans for the Indian market this World Cup and what special packages they have to offer.
Since UK is hosting cricket world cup after 20 years, how are you planning to attract the Indian market?
This will be the biggest cricket tournament to date. It is a chance to showcase the best of England and Wales on the global stage, and is a once in a generation chance for cricket fans in England and Wales to see the world’s greatest players in action. With 1.5 billion people expected to tune in, we will maximise this chance to grow the sport and boost participation across the country. Cricket is one of the world’s most popular sports and that is in large part because of its popularity in India. We don’t need to attract the Indian market so much, as to welcome thousands of Indian and other international fans to see the very best of England and Wales.
What kind of packages are you offering for the World Cup?
If you’re going to watch the World Cup, getting your UK visa is easier than you think. Last year, 9 in 10 of those who applied were successful – and 97 pc of all applicants received a decision on their application within the official service standard of 15 working days. Customers can be confident that if they apply early for their visa – up to three months ahead of their date of travel – they will receive a decision in time for their trip to watch the cricket this summer.
If you apply late, you can use the Priority Visa service. This is an optional paid service and means you can get a decision on your application in five working days or less, instead of the standard 15 working days. In the year ending June 2018, the UK issued over 460,000 visitor visas to Indian nationals, a 10 pc increase on the previous year and the largest absolute increase for any nation in the world.
How popular is cricket tourism among Indians? How is it doing for the outbound market?
Indians travel to attend all sorts of sporting events. It is not just cricket, but other sports like football – the English Premier League, tennis at Wimbledon as well as cricket at Lords and the other main grounds in England and Wales. The IPL – the Indian Premier League – is also attracting foreign tourists to Indian cricket grounds, from what I have seen of the coverage of the latest edition of the IPL.
UK and India benefit from a unique living bridge of people, ideas and institutions – that sits separate to the government to-government relationship. No other bilateral relationship can compete with the sheer breadth of UK-India ties, from political, business, finance, tech, science, medicine, to soft power areas including cricket or the historical scope.
Tourism is the UK’s 3rd largest service export. According to Deloitte, it is an industry that is forecast to grow by 3.8 pc a year through to 2025, significantly faster than the overall UK economy.
India is a “GREAT” market for tourism to Britain. India is a top 20 market for us, 17th by volume, 14th for spend with about 560,000 visits resulting in EUR 454 million spend. Number of visits rose by more than 65 pc on 2012-17 and spending by 36 pc over the same period.
Can you give an estimate on to how many people have booked a trip to the UK because of the Cricket world cup?
We expect large numbers to attend the summer of cricket in Britain. At least 25,000 Indians travelled to Australia for the 2015 Cricket World Cup event. Estimates for the numbers planning to travel to the UK from India for CWC 2019 range from 50,000-80,000. We obviously hope it is the higher number!