US President Donald Trump's travel ban and immigration policies might have not gone down well in some parts of the world but Caroline Beteta, the Visit California President and CEO, says it's too early to gauge the effect on travel business in the Golden State following such action.
"It's little too early to say that because we do our inbound international research long-term. The benefit is California is far away from Washington, it's the other side of the country. Also, people around the world know that California has different culture and vision about embracing diversity and inclusiveness and why it is made for such a strong economy and spirit about California that resonates with everyone," Beteta told IANS during her second India visit here.
Visit California, the destination marketing organisation for California, has brought a CEO Mission to India this month. This delegation consists of 11 CEOs of cities and attractions and is being led by Beteta.
She was also the former Vice-Chairperson and Chairperson of Brand USA, where she provided strategic direction for the projected $200 million global programme.
California commands 27.5 per cent of the market share from Indian outbound travel market to the US, accounting for 319,000 visitors who spent $706 million in 2016 in the Golden State. Also, according to Visit California, spending by travellers totalled $126.3 billion in 2016 in California, generating 1.1 million jobs in the state and $10.3 billion in state and local tax revenues.
Beteta feels California as travel industry has a message of authenticity and inclusiveness and that's what they are focussing on.
"We know that we will connect with people around the world. Also when it comes to safety and security of people, everybody wants to make sure they are given full attention when they are visiting any destination, just like India. So we make sure that we take care of people from all around the world," she said when asked about reports that stated some officials in US are concerned about tourism business going down in the days to come.
She also feels that the recent meeting between Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the ASEAN summit in Manila will help the travel business of both the countries.
"Anytime heads of state gather, it's good for the facilitation of international travel," she said.
"Travel promotes understanding and I think we are the biggest form of public diplomacy in the form of hospitality industry and bringing peace to this world so a meeting between heads of state definitely helps," she added.
For her, India holds an important place for tourism growth in California.
"We have seen healthy growth and it has increased over the years. We are expecting six-to-seven per cent increase soon and what we have seen is high prospect of growth in next several years... may be about 40 per cent between now and 2021," said Beteta.
"With the growing middle class in India, we just feel that we have a lot of connectivity and experiences that would be highly appealing to the Indian market," said the CEO who appeared excited about her trip to Agra to visit Taj Mahal.