The Indian Consul to Wales, Raj Aggrawal, said today’s semi final ICC Champions Trophy game in Cardiff provides a great opportunity to showcase Wales to the world.
He said that with millions watching the match between India and Sri Lanka in the sub-continent alone, it will help build awareness of Wales as an investment and tourism destination.
Both teams will be playing their second games at the home of Glamorgan Cricket Club in the tournament.
Entrepreneur Mr Aggrawal said that India’s first visit to Cardiff a few weeks ago was a “great success “ due to the staging of an Ashes test match back in 2009.
He said: “We can be so proud of the way we conducted ourselves and the hospitality offered that day really led to these one day games coming here.
“That day the stadium won its sporting spurs and the ECB and ICC were so delighted with then way we delivered it.
“In Wales we know we can deliver and the fact that it was a sell out game is confirmation of this. To have the opening game in this tournament gave Cardiff and Wales the kind of exposure money can’t buy.”
He acknowledged the part played by the Welsh Government and in particular work done by First Minister Carwyn Jones.
He said: “Without the Welsh Government’s support this wouldn’t be happening. It was, I believe, crucial and it actually started with the First Minister’s visit to India in April last year. The inroads he made both politically and with the business community there were impressive.”
He added: “That trade delegation opened up so may avenues for Wales in just four days and twelve meetings. At each one the message was delivered that Wales is ready to do business.”
Now he believes is the time to capitalise on this and the showcase cricket games played in Cardiff used as impetus to tourism.
As the Indian economy grows more people are taking their holiday abroad and Wales is an ideal destination, said Mr Aggrawal.
In addition to this he feels his appointment has made it easier for Indian companies to enter into a dialogue with their Welsh counterparts because his office understands the nature of their inquiries.
He said: “We are getting inquiries from people who want to invest in Wales and know what support is available.
“We are directing them to the enterprise zones and Cardiff council have made it clear there are opportunities here [the capital’s enterprise zone for financial and professional services] for companies that want to set up in Cardiff.
On tourism, for which the Welsh Government published a new strategy this week Mr Aggrawal said: “I feel we can do a lot more in the tourist sector and Wales has so much to offer.
“Wales has everything a tourist could want and Indians would love Wales with its beaches, mountains and historical monuments.
“Cities like Cardiff and Swansea are international cities and the Indian population here in Wales have established community centres and places specialising in ethnic cuisine. So it’s not just a matter of attracting high-tech businesses.”
His assertion is that if Wales markets itself properly then it will reap the rewards.
He said: “Welsh hospitality is unbeatable and those who have been here will agree with this and have spread the word.
“So the feedback I get is that they are delighted with what they have seen. Perhaps we should focus more on attracting tourist from India and have literature printed in these languages to tell prospective visitors what is available here.
Mr Aggrawal has been in office just six months and during that time Cardiff has been host to the India UK Conference which brought 70 leading Indian businesses to the capital.
As a result there is a strong dialogue continuing between some of them and businesses in Wales which he believes will lead to future inward investment.
And there has been several cultural events staged here where Indian artists and musicians have engaged cross cultural activity.
But the icing on the cake is today’s semi final and the hype attached to it.
“Cricket is a massive support in India and we will have a full stadium,” Mr Aggrawal.
He added: “Wales will again be seen around the Indian continent and indeed the world. I am sure the legacy these teams leave behind will be of benefit to young cricketers here.”