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Eric Garcetti on India Journey: Visas, Tourism, Cricket

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Skift Take

A whole lot of Indians are ready a very long time to go to the U.S. Eric Garcetti desires to generate the identical pleasure in U.S. vacationers about visiting India.

There’s a giant demand from Indian vacationers to go to the U.S., however there’s not as a lot demand the opposite method round.

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Eric Garcetti, U.S. Ambassador to India, thinks that’s beginning to change — and he’s pushing to reinforce demand on either side. 

“People don’t know India and Indians like India and Indians know America and People. I feel there’s an awakening taking place now, so that is going to be extra of a two-way avenue,” Garcetti stated.

Garcetti, former two-term Los Angeles mayor, shared his ideas about how one can develop that momentum throughout the Skift India Summit on Wednesday.

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Garcetti mentioned roadblocks and alternatives round visas and tourism specifically, in addition to the potential for cricket on the world stage. 

Lengthy Visa Wait Occasions

Garcetti stated he was particularly requested by U.S. President Joe Biden to work on decreasing the backlog of visa functions for Indians. 

“I don’t know this for certain, however I guess it’s the one time the US president has advised the ambassador, ‘Please work on visa points,’” Garcetti stated.  

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Wait occasions had been as excessive as 1,000 days after restrictions had been lifted post-pandemic. Now, the wait time is all the way down to about 250 days, he stated.

The embassy launched a press release in January that it had processed a record-breaking 1.4 million U.S. visas in 2023. There are already 5 million Indians which have U.S. visas, often legitimate for a decade, Garcetti stated.

Garcetti stated the embassy achieved the wait time discount by constructing out services and making processes extra environment friendly, however there’s extra work to be carried out as demand grows. 

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“[India is] second solely to Mexico now [international tourism to the U.S.], which can all the time be primary as a border nation,” he stated.

Tourism To and From India

There’s a brand new airport opening in India every week, Garcetti stated. 

And Indian airways are increasing shortly, pushed by the rising center class. 

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Indian airways added 112 plane in 2023, and there are orders for greater than 1,000 beneath method. 

Price range airline Indigo has the biggest share, with 342 plane as of 2023 and an order positioned final 12 months for 500 extra. 

“Indigo … it’ll be the primary airline in all probability on the planet in a pair years, when it comes to passenger quantity,” Garcetti stated. 

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Air India ordered 470 plane, and its CEO stated throughout the Skift India Summit that he desires to revive the model as a “top-tier and world-class airline.”

A part of Garcetti’s function entails working with airways so as to add new routes and develop their enterprise with out too many roadblocks in India. 

Subsequent, there’s work to be carried out in constructing out the tourism infrastructure in India — a part of the explanation he believes few People go to. 

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“I feel there’s a whole lot of work to be carried out to advertise India as a tourism vacation spot. After which flip that — I actually wish to convey extra Indians to America,” Garcetti stated.

Potential for Cricket on the World Stage

Garcetti has been a proponent of cricket, a preferred sport in India. 

He introduced final 12 months that it’ll be a part of the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles. 

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Garcetti believes it’s solely a matter of time earlier than it turns into standard in different components of the world. And everybody concerned will profit economically. 

“I feel it’ll take a few decade,” Garcetti stated. “However right here’s your funding tip: Put money into main league cricket now; the payoff can be large sooner or later. It’s sort of like main league soccer — everyone stated it wasn’t going to succeed, and now these groups are so large.”

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