10th December, 2003
TOURISM


INDIA’S TOURISM RIDES HIGH

G.S.Dhar*


Recognition of tourism as an important instrument of socio-economic change has given a huge boost to the sector. Building on the current year’s success with a 15 per cent rise in international arrivals, the ‘Incredible India’, a multi-pronged promotional campaign launched by the Department of Tourism, aims to position the country as an up market destination for discerning travellers. It focuses on the diversity of India as a holiday destination ‘with something for everyone’, from beaches to mountains, world heritage sites to cultural fairs and safaris to holistic holidays.

The new priorities and initiatives have been actuated with a sound backing of a National Tourism Policy. The earlier setbacks in global tourism have strengthened the Department of Tourism’s resolve to promote India’s tourism through aggressive marketing strategies. With ‘Incredible India’, it is now proactive in approach-responsive and alert to international and national travel trends.

The campaign under the banner of ‘Incredible India’ includes a wide ranging advertisement campaign in all prime print publications besides a global television campaign encompassing prominent English, French, German and Italian channels and an innovative online campaign on the world’s most popular websites. It will also take care of promotional activities through the overseas offices. This convergence of media for promotion has brought great visibility and built up awareness for the India tourism brand. As part of the efforts to consolidate India’s presence in key markets of Germany, France and Spain, the Deutsche, French and Spanish versions of the official website of India tourism – www.incredibleindia.org has also been launched.

The ‘marketing mantra’ for the Department of Tourism is to position India as a global brand to take advantage of the burgeoning global travel and trade and the vast untapped potential of India as a destination. The bounties of nature and great treasures of art and culture besides adventure tourism in hilly-terrains, interiors and wildlife sanctuaries are being offered. It has also planned to promote spiritual tourism and its unique techniques of yoga, siddha, ayurveda and unani system of dealing with mental and physical rejuvenation by placing before the world, through tourist spots.

ITTM

Tourism is a multi-sectoral activity where all components of the tourism system have to work in sync to deliver the product, which primarily comprises of the ultimate visitor experiences. Obviously, obtaining synergies through a combined and co-ordinated effort is the key to deliver in the face of increasing competition.

In this context, the International Travel & Tourism Mart (ITTM) organized by the Department of Tourism in September 2003 in Delhi is seen as a major effort to bring together, under one roof, all the sectors. It included national and regional tourism organizations, travel-trade, accommodation, carrier sector and all the allied services to showcase their portfolio to the buyers and media, both from India and abroad, as well as to the domestic consumers. Attracting over 300 international buyers and media from 38 countries and over 225 exhibitors, the ITTM is now positioned as the foremost tourism industry event in the country.

The Department of Tourism has taken a conscious decision to participate effectively at the major travel industry marts and fairs, internationally involving both State Governments as well as the private sector. The main objective is to raise brand awareness of India as a destination and its tourism products, to develop new contacts, generate sales leads and to launch new products and services. While participation in most of such events is organized through the network of 13 India tourism offices aborad, the major ones are coordinated by the Department centrally to encourage larger industry involvement and participation.

PATA

Intra-regional tourism has always been the backbone of tourist arrivals around the world due to cultural affinity, affordability and ease of travel to nearby destinations. In fact, travel from Asia has always been important for India as the Asians have shown resilience to global upheavals and kept the Indian tourism industry going even in adverse times.

The Department’s recognition of this important market was evident at the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Travel Mart held in Singapore in November 2003. As against fragmented Indian participation by various industry members in the past, this year’s participation at this major event for Asia and Pacific marked the Department’s resolve, as an umbrella organization, to put a unified and an impressive show by putting up an ‘India Pavillion’.

WTM

The World Travel Market (WTM) held in London is a premier global event for the international travel industry which bridges together more than 5,000 of the world’s leading travel and tourism companies from over 190 countries. The Indian participation at this prestigious event was significant with more than 100 Indian travel and tourism companies participating in the event. The ‘India Pavilion’ built on 770 sq. metres presented bold and striking images of diverse Indian Tourism attractions and, at the same time, presented an excellent ambience for conducting business.

Besides the Minister of State for Tourism addressing the key international players at the WTM, the main highlight of the India’s participation was Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister’s presentation at this International forum allaying fears and safety concerns of the tourists intending to visit the State.

India has placed renewed emphasis on high yield tourism of Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) tourism. ‘India 2004 – a just published directory of MICE facilities and intermediaries in India was released at the WTM to attract this important segment to Indian shores.

The 64th SKAL World Congress held in Chennai from 10-24th October 2003 was significant from tourism industry viewpoint with over 500 international travel industry managers and senior professionals participating in the event who deliberated on "Tourism through Friendship and Peace" – the theme of the Congress. The Congress was addressed by the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and – Vijay Amritraj, the Tennis icon. The delegates witnessed spectacular cultural performances representing the many and varied facets of India. Hosting of this important event in India is also seen a major breakthrough in establishing India as a convention and meetings destination in the international marketplace.

The Department’s pro-active approach and strategic actions have enabled India to regain its market share dramatically. For example, for the five-month period from October 2002 to February 2003 recorded a growth of 16.2 per cent. Despite the whole of Asia being adversely affected by SARS, India still continued to record growth, though marginally, March, April and May 2003. Subsequently, the tourist arrivals bounced back again. June to October this year recorded a major growth of 22 per cent on an average putting the average growth rate for between January and October this year, at an impressive 15 per cent. The foreign exchange earnings for the period pegged at US $ 2.83 billion recorded growth by an impressive 22.4 per cent.

More critically, the integrated marketing communication campaign with effective organization and participation in tourism events, both at home and in the tourism generating markets, has enabled India re-position itself as a "destination of choice". The focus is on its authentic Indian experience and differentiates itself as a spiritually enhancing, culturally enriching, physically invigorating and mentally rejuvenating travel experience.

The Department of Tourism’s initiatives to provide visitors to ‘Incredible India’ with a world-class experience are bound to continue a gradual increase in India’s market share of global tourism. No wonder the Conde Nest Traveller, a leading International Travel publication has rated India as one of the top ten favourite tourism destinations. (PIB Features)

*Joint Director-General, Tourism

 

 
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