by Michael J. Shapiro | March 01, 2011

This is the second in M&C's special three-part series on emerging meetings markets. India boasts the second-largest hotel pipeline in the region (after China), as well as one of the world's fastest growing economies. A highly educated and trained work force, and the fact that English is the secondary official language, have lured many international companies, and the country's meetings infrastructure is growing apace. Watch for the upcoming feature on Brazil in our April issue.

The cities of India brim with a restless energy, the populace seemingly attempting to keep pace with the country's increasing importance to the global marketplace. Urban highways pack in more traffic than appears logical to the Western eye: Trucks, buses, cars, scooters, pedestrians, three-wheeled "auto rickshaw" taxis and the occasional bovine perform a seemingly choreographed race across an often-undefined number of lanes. The contrasts among these types of transportation -- as well as among the countless buildings being constructed alongside the highways -- are representative of those being experienced by the country as a whole. Backpackers seeking enlightenment and traditional culture arrive alongside business travelers participating in the world's second-fastest-growing economy (following China), based on projections from the International Monetary Fund.

International corporations are investing heavily in the nation's infrastructure. In the hospitality industry in particular, ambitious expansion plans are underway to satiate growing demand. Nearly 80,000 hotel rooms are in the construction pipeline, according to the Lodging Econometrics' Fall 2010 Asia Pacific Real Estate Trends Report. That's a small fraction of China's pipeline (which accounts for more than 336,000 rooms), but it's enough to make India's pipeline the third largest globally -- and to help make the Asia Pacific region the fastest in recovering from the worldwide recession, in Lodging Econometrics' assessment of the hospitality industry.

The International Congress and Convention Association held its 2010 Congress in Hyderabad, India, last October -- in part, according to CEO Martin Sirk, to expose delegates to India's potential while taking advantage of Hyderabad's new facilities. "An understanding of the importance of international meetings has been present amongst Indians for a long time," he says, "but only now is their infrastructure catching up to their aspirations. The rest of India is sprinting to match what Hyderabad offers, with new modern convention centers being announced in city after city."