For tourism, India should flaunt 20 best brands: experts

Saturday, 31 May 2008, 05:06 Hrs   |    2 Comments
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New Delhi: India should come up with 20 best brands - or destinations - to attract visitors instead of promoting the entire country through the 'Incredible India' campaign, say industry and state tourism officials.

Building these brands would mean better infrastructure, sanitation, cleanliness and also easier promotion of the tourist sites, they say.

"India should be sold in parts as a tourism destination. Just promoting India, which is a huge and complex country as a single entity, is difficult," said Navin Berry, South Asia Travel and Tourism Exchange (SATTE) chief coordinator.

"Instead, we should have 20 brands that have direct access through airports, trains and roads," Berry, who heads SATTE - India's biggest travel and trade fair organisation - told IANS.

He said these unique brands could be states like Rajasthan, Kerala, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and places like New Delhi, Mumbai and so on.

"The tourism ministry after selecting these sites could then build infrastructure, more hotels, roadside restrooms and beautify these sites. All this would obviously draw more tourists to India," he added.

India drew about five million foreign tourists in 2007 - a minuscule figure compared to 50 million for China and around seven million for a tiny country like Singapore in 2007.

Agreeing with Berry, Martin Buck, vice-president, travel and logistics, with International Tourism Exchange (ITB) Berlin, which is considered the world's leading travel trade show, said he was "all for the idea".

"India is a huge and complex country and the best way to reduce the complexity is to build brands. This way they will find it easy to market India. At the moment, there is no specific thrust. This tends to confuse tourists," said Buck during a visit here.

He said in situations where a bomb blast had occurred in one part of the country, foreign tourists could be guided to visit another site that had not been impacted.

"This would ensure that they don't stop coming to India. If we build the brands, we diversify the risks too," said Buck.

"State governments could also highlight the best feature of their site - like mountains, trekking, sun and beaches, wildlife or just ayurveda, religion, culture and heritage. There are so many things in India on offer," Buck said.

The central tourism ministry, however, doesn't seem to be keen on the idea, saying promoting the country as a whole helps project its diversity.

Tourism joint secretary Leena Nandan said: "We show the different aspects a traveller could find in India, from beaches to wildlife to culture. But the states are free to publicise their sites. We market India as a brand."

Dinesh Naidoo, vice-president of the Association of Travel Agents in South Africa, who was here for a travel meet, also disagreed with projecting several brands, instead of highlighting India as a whole.

"It is not right to brand certain states and leave the rest. The focus should be on brand India. The Malaysian advertisement presents the country as truly Asia and does not show Langkawi or Kula Lumpur.

"India's campaign of Incredible India is just great and clicks," said Naidoo, who is managing director of Serendipity Tours in Durban.

The states, of course, have a different perspective.

Madhya Pradesh Tourism executive director G.S. Chahal said creating different brands would also help travellers easily identify a site. "It makes a lot of sense. At the moment, tourists grope in the dark when they see different tourist sites being publicised," he explained.

"We are working on building brand Madhya Pradesh. And we have been able to achieve it through our promotional that describes the state as the heart of India. The campaign has worked for us and now other states are trying to follow our kind of advertisement," said a happy Chahal.

He said they were also working hard to make the best tourism products, including adding budget hotels, better infrastructure and vibrant and beautiful sites.
Source: IANS
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