Middle East OTA Musafir eyes India with $16M fund, Tendulkar in tow and big ambitionsNews / Distribution | OnlineBy Karthick Prabu | October 30, 2013Share This article was originally published on UAE-based online travel agency Musafir has made its first foray into the subcontinental marketplace with a dedicated website for India.Musafir India has an initial investment commitment of $16+ million (INR 100 crore) backed by parent company Universal Travels & Tourism from the UAE and Viva Holdings from India.Musafir India's current focus is on flights product where it offers tickets to over 3,000 destinations around the world on over 270 airlines. It also has domestic and international hotel deals at over 75,000 hotels.The company says it will rollout several product innovations, and soon it will also launch tailored holiday packages for travellers.The company also has an ambitious goal of becoming one of the top five OTAs in India by 2018.To help boost its presence in India, Musafir has roped in the Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar as a brand ambassador.Tendulkar will be representing the brand in a global marketing campaign that includes radio, television and outdoor media.Managing director Sachin Gadoya says: "India’s online travel market is expected to cross 55,000 crore ($11 billion) by 2015 and OTAs are expected to account for a 40% share of that market. "Our aim is to leverage our expertise and experience to maximize opportunities in this burgeoning market by focusing on the B2C leisure travel segment and offering Indian travellers a suite of exciting products, no-nonsense convenience and a premium experience."Share this quote To promote the launch of the India site, Musafir has waived all booking fees for an initial period of 30 days - a deliberate attempt to position itself as a competitor alongside the likes of Cleartrip and MakeMyTrip, both of which charge a commission to travellers for bookings.Musafir was founded by Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Thani, Sachin Gadoya and Albert Dias in 2007. In India, it will run operations in its Mumbai office.