Showing posts with label Destination Marketing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Destination Marketing. Show all posts

Monday, November 1, 2010

India Should Take Up “Roots Tourism” Seriously

With a huge Indian Diaspora across a number of countries in the world, India has a golden opportunity to reap rich harvest from “Roots Tourism”.

As everybody knows, there is hardly any country without at least a moderate population of PIOs (People of Indian Origin). They are present in the USA, Canada, Europe, Caribbean Island countries (notably Trinidad &Tobago and Guyana), South East Asia (such as Singapore and Malaysia), African nations (like Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, etc), Mauritius in the Indian Ocean region, Fiji in the South West Pacific region, and so on. And many of them have been staying there for various generations. This wide-spanning Diaspora provides India with a strong potential tourism market, and the Union Tourism Ministry may chalk out a specialized campaign to tap the same.

Personally I feel that the emphasis should be given on targeting the Indian origins in Mauritius, Fiji, Caribbean Island countries, African countries and South East Asia, with the PIOs in Europe, the USA and Canada being given somewhat less priority. Why?

Actually, the PIOs in the USA, Canada and Europe are usually the ones who have been there for at most two or three generations. They still have contacts with their relatives back in India, and occasionally visit their homeland. The concept of Roots Tourism will not be fascinating to them, as they do not feel themselves to be detouched from their ancestral roots in that sense.

But the PIOs of countries like Mauritius, Fiji, Caribbean Island countries, African countries and South East Asia are usually the ones who have been staying their for several generations, and have completely lost touch with their relatives back home. So they do not have any family ties that can encourage them to visit their original homeland. And the only way to enthuse them to visit India is to generate in them an emotional urge to visit their ancestral roots, something that the Roots Tourism concept is precisely aimed at.

I understand that the Bihar government has already launched a Roots Tourism campaign in countries like Mauritius and Fiji, where the PIOs mostly comprise Bihari origins. I do not know whether any other state government has launched any such initiative. Nor I am aware whether the Indian government has any such plan. If it does not, then I feel it will not be a bad idea to go for such a plan at the earliest.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sports Tourism In India – A Seemingly Undertapped Potential

The Indian government has seemingly not made full utilization of the rich Sports Tourism potential that this country is fortunate to enjoy. Given the fact that India enjoys a highly rich geographical diversity, there is little wonder that we witness the practice of such a vast range of sports on our soil – ranging from skiing in the snow covered Himalayan regions to water sports like scuba diving and snorkeling in the coastal regions.

And this vast range of sports opportunities offers a great destination marketing proposition to the “Incredible India” campaigners, i.e. the mandarins of the Indian Tourism Ministry.

The Indian Tourism Ministry can use these sports facilities to lure a huge number of potential foreign tourists who are sports freak, and will love to practice their favourite games in an ideal locale. So the question is, does the Tourism Ministry promote and market these sports facilities properly among the potential target audience?

One can argue that these sports facilities are already well known among foreign tourists. After all, it is a common experience to find foreign tourists participating in skiing and trekking in Himachal Pradesh, scuba diving and snorkeling in Goa or Lakshwadeep, etc. Yes, it is true. But we must remember that most of these tourists come to India primarily for traveling, and avail these sports facilities on the sidelines of their travel (or as part of their travel). It is not that common to come across foreigners who have come down precisely to play these sports (though sometimes we ofcourse find foreigners to have come down for trekking, mountaineering, etc.).

Personally I feel that the Tourism Ministry should market these sports facilities very aggressively, with a special team having exclusive focus on this area. The Ministry should try to ensure that almost all foreign enthusiasts of relevant sports (skiing, scuba diving, snorkeling, etc.) not only come to know about these sports facilities, but also get enthused to come down to India simply to experience them.

For that the Ministry has to carefully craft very captivating marketing campaigns, which will unfailingly catch the fascination of the target audience. The Ministry should also be careful about marketing the right “product” to the right “potential customer”. For example, while marketing the skiing facilities in Himachal Pradesh, the Ministry can target the USA and the European countries, where people are known for their love for skiing. And while marketing water sports facilities like scuba diving and snorkeling, primary focus may be given on countries like Australia and New Zealand, where people are known to be passionate about water sports. It may be true that while marketing a geographical feature (such as mountains), our main focus should be on countries where people are not familiar with it (for example Singapore), and will therefore be thrilled to come to India to see the feature themselves. However, while marketing a sports facility we must focus mainly on the country where people are familiar with the sports, and can identify themselves with the same. In case they are not interested in the sports, they will not get enthused. (Just imagine marketing a gala Cricket Event in the USA).

Since Sports Tourism caters to a niche market, it is comparatively easier to formulate “cumulative” marketing and promotional campaigns covering a huge chunk of appropriate target audience at one go. For example, while marketing Goa-based scuba diving facilities in Australia, the Ministry can make a direct campaign at the scuba diving associations and organizations of Australia.

I suppose the Tourism Ministry should immediately form a special team exclusively focused on promoting and branding India as an ideal “Sports Destination”. And it should come up with various customized punch lines depending on the target audiences, such as “Himachal Pradesh – Your Ideal Skiing Destination” or “Goa – The Heaven of Scuba Diving”.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Palace Tourism In Rajasthan

Other day I was reading in the newspaper about Liz Hurley’s plan to buy a “Haveli” in Rajasthan. And I was not surprised. The fascination of the “western world” for the old palaces of Rajasthan is well known, with the fascination itself stemming from their fascination for the seemingly fairy tales appeal of now non-existent Indian royalty. Actually this fascination for the Indian royals (of the yesteryear) is found not only in the “West’, but virtually in every other part of the world.

So I was just wondering whether we can cash in on this fascination, and thus boost tourism in Rajasthan? And the plan that I suggest is the initiation of a specialized “Palace Tourism” for foreign tourists.

Yes, I know that Palace Tourism is already there, wherein tourists are taken inside the ancient palaces and forts in Rajasthan (and also in other places like Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, etc.), and exposed to various traces and remnants (like clothes, utensils, etc.) of the memory of the royals who used to stay there.

But what I am suggesting is a bit different. I suggest the government to launch an offer wherein a foreign couple (or a group of friends, a single person, etc.) can rent a Rajasthan palace for few days. The entire ambience inside the palace will be kept exactly in the way it was during the time of the royals, with the staff dressed in attires and uniforms of that time. And, most importantly, the tourists will be given the types of attires that royals used to wear. And, the staff will be dealing with them exactly in the way the royals would be treated by their servants, like doing “Kurnish”, etc. (Of course the staff must not be forced to do something which is against their self respect sense). And the old world royal touch should be there in terms of other matters, as well. For example, instead of using a bathroom comprising modern gadgets, the tourists can enjoy a bath that the former masters of that palace would enjoy (for example, the lady staff helping the lady tourists to have a bath in a tub full of rose water, exactly in a manner the queens used to take bath).

In a nutshell, I want to say that the tourists can be made to experience exactly the life that royals used to enjoy during their reign.

I feel that such a plan will be an instant hit for the foreign tourists, who still perceive India as a land of Kings and Queens, and carry huge fascination for the latter. It will be a great way to “utilize” their fascination, and enhance tourist influx in Rajasthan. Of course such a stay will be very costly. And in fact the government should target mainly the rich American and European tourists, who have both the money and the stomach for expenses.

I do not know whether any such plan has already been incorporated. And I also do not know whether everybody will appreciate this “Marketing and Promotion” plan. I just came up with a plan that struck my mind. And I appreciate an open feedback from everybody.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Promoting India Abroad As A Favoured Tourist Destination – Customized Marketing Is The Key

Other day I was reading the interview of a top Indian bureaucrat. The gentleman – let him call Mr. X – has been a top official with the Central Tourism Ministry under Government of India (GOI), has been involved with the famous “Incredible India” campaign, and is considered to be a top destination marketing expert of the country.

During the interview Mr. X has said something that is very significant. We all Indians take pride in the diverse tourist attractions of India, such as mountains, jungles, sea and desert. It is the presence of so many natural features that has made India such a colourful tourist destination.

However, Mr X has said that it is this multifaceted “destination personality” of India that has made it so difficult to promote India abroad as a tourist destination. And why is India’s multifaceted personality – resulting from her diversity – a problem in promoting the country as a favoured tourist destination? Because it makes it difficult to make a proper “branding” of India. You will fail to decide how you will brand India – as a country of mountains, jungles, sea beaches, or anything else. Collective promotion of all the features robs every feature of its due glaze, making it look much less insignificant and attractive than actually what it is. The target audience comes to know about all the features present in this land, and fails to notice the speciality of any of them.

I understand what Mr. X has said. It is true. Whenever we think of a country, there is a certain geographical feature that comes in our mind, such as snow clad mountains in the case of Switzerland, savannah and wild beasts when we think of Kenya, blue ocean and golden sea beaches when we think of Mauritius or Caribbean Islands, and so on. But just try to think of India, and soooooo many features come into your mind, leaving you both thrilled and confused. (The irony of having too many?)

Well, my humble self has a small suggestion, and I feel that the Tourism Ministry already has this idea in its mind.

Since the plentiness of India’s geographical features is creating a branding problem, then why do not we go for “customized branding” in the context of the country where we are promoting our motherland?

For example, when we are trying to promote India in Switzerland, then it is stupid to talk about the beautiful snow-clad mountains that we have, because that will understandably fail to woo the Swiss people. So we should tell them about precisely all those features that they do not have – the desert of Rajasthan, the golden beaches of Goa and Andaman & Nicobar Islands, etc. Similarly, while promoting India in Mauritius and Caribbean Islands it is meaningless to talk about the golden beaches of Goa and Andaman, but highlighting our mountains and jungles (with rich wildlife) will be a great idea. And again, trying to woo the people from countries like Kenya and Tanzania through our jungles and wildlife will be a foolish plan, but they can be enthused to visit our land by talking about the mountains and sea beaches (yes, these countries have beautiful Kilimanjaro, but they will always find visiting Himalayas a good idea).

We can make customized promotion in terms of our “soft assets”, as well. For example, Buddhism is so popular in some countries like Japan, Thailand and Sri Lanka. We can promote India in these countries (the Tourism Ministry is already doing it) by promoting those Indian spots that have strong links with that religion. This will certainly draw a number of tourists from these countries, and that is already happening actually.

I think the Tourism Ministry has already taken some steps in line with customized marketing. It is only that they have to take the concept more seriously.

Monday, September 29, 2008 – An ideal example of destination marketing effort

Recently I had the pleasure of visiting, the official web site of Jordan Tourism Board, i.e. the organization responsible for promoting Jordan as a tourist destination. And man, it was a real pleasure!

The site exemplifies one of the best specimens of Destination Marketing that I have come across so far. What I liked most was not the comprehensiveness of information displayed by it, but the innovative way by which those information were disseminated. For example the way the Hollywood connection of the Nebataean city of Petra was discussed. The innovative and racy language used in that description immediately catches the visitor's attention, eventually making that otherwise moderately interesting information sound like a thrilling one.

The site reflects a superb command of Web Marketing domain, while also reflecting a sound knowledge of the Marketing Communication field as a whole.

And, as I already said, the site has established itself as a gem of Destination Marketing initiative.

Loads of congrats to each and every person behind this beautiful site.