It’s been another busy year for Services International Ltd. in promoting India travel.
Pramod Singla, director of the Delhi-based travel company, made his second trip to Canada in less than a year, for a pair of presentations in Montreal and Ottawa. Another series of shows took place earlier this year in southern Ontario. Singla spoke to PAX during a break from presentations in Toronto last week.
Although the business only recently entered Canada in 2012, Services International opened its doors in 1989, founded by Singla and another partner with whom he worked in India’s hotel industry since 1976.
While the company currently only has one Canadian representative – Garima Shamsukha, manager of business development – business has been brisk. With the majority of bookings coming from the southern Ontario region which Shamsukha calls home, Services International is now looking to other markets in Canada as well. Singla said that while there are no plans for additional Canadian staff, a move into the U.S. is currently in the works.
“Garima’s based here in Ontario and we don’t foresee adding a new person, as she’s taking care of it,” Singla said. “She covers all of Canada. Garima arrived here almost three years ago and bookings are very strong now.”
With travel packages offered across India (as well as to nearby destinations including Nepal, Tibet, Sri Lanka and Bhutan), Singla said that bookings to northern India have been the most popular due to the existing tourism infrastructure in the region. In Canada, Singla said the FIT market is the company’s strongest segment, which will see an increased focus in the coming years.
Comparing Canada to other markets, Singla noted that Canadians seem to take a more serious approach to inquiring about travel.
“The industry here is very serious; when someone asks you something, they mean it,” Singla said. “It’s not just to talk – they really want to know about programs and prices. Other places, people ask you to send five programs and it’s very vague. You put more effort into preparing a program when they’re serious.”
And with the recent announcement of India extending electronic tourist visas to Canadian travellers, Singla is expecting even more bookings as a result of the new program.
“It’s a very big benefit and now people from far-flung areas are able to travel to India without going to the consulate or high commission,” he said. “It’s providing an incentive to travel there.”
PHOTO: Eugene Correa, administrative assistant, India Tourism Toronto; Anil Oraw, director, India Tourism Toronto; Rajesh Raina, consul & head of chancery, Consulate General of India; Ram Kolipakam, district sales manager, Air India; Pramod Singla, director, Services International Ltd.; Garima Shamsukha, manager - business development; Aloka Oraw; Nandita Raina.