The tourism ministry is pushing for a collaborative approach among the Centre, states and industry under Incredible India 2.0 to promote brand India, writes
Convergence — that is what Incredible India is seeking to bring into the increasingly digital campaigns to market the country to tourists.
One of the objectives of the Incredible India 2.0 campaign is fostering engagement between Centre and state initiatives, as well as extensive collaborations with industry, to promote tourism.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley’s budget for 2017-18 has proposed to launch a new worldwide campaign under the tourism ministry’s flagship Incredible India programme. It has also proposed to develop five special tourism zones in partnership with states.
The ministry is promoting a give-and-take approach. Some states have outdone others, and even the central government, on their tourism promotions with professionally managed global campaigns. The Centre plans to replicate some of the innovative ideas that states have come up with — like inviting foreign bloggers to tour the country, as Kerala has done — while also supporting them where they need help.
While states are marketing their own attractions, the Centre wants to leverage everything into one package, which it expects can bring a multiplier effect to the promotion of brand India.
“We are being very careful in all the campaigns we are carrying out, because we are branding the country here when we are promoting tourism internationally,” said Suman Billa, joint secretary at the Ministry of Tourism. “While the state bodies are doing a great job in promoting their offering, there is no convergence that is happening. We are working towards converging the Centre and states alongside collaborating with the trade and industry segment so that the right kind of branding can be done for the country.” The private sector is central to the plans. “While we position the country as a travel destination for tourists across the world, we must also offer them world class hospitality that the private sector players in the segment can exhibit through joint initiatives with us,” Billa said. The budget has earmarked Rs300 crore for Incredible India, a campaign which has in recent past been hit by controversy over the celebrities endorsing it. Billa said the amount needed to go up significantly, and that the government was working on it.
States still rope in Bollywood stars, from Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan to Priyanka Chopra, to promote tourism in their regions. However, social media campaigns, digital launch of promotions and customer engagement through bloggers are the new favourites. Following the Kerala Blog Express model, wherein the state takes leading bloggers from 25 countries on a fortnight road trip across the God’s Own Country to explore its culture and heritage, the Centre is planning a similar move as part of its tourism agenda for the year. Under this programme, it would take bloggers on a Heritage on Wheels trip. “There is no better way to get publicity than getting it from people who are heard. Bloggers are all over the Internet and that’s where our prospective visitors dwell,” said Billa. “Through the bloggers we plan to move a step closer to our clientele and also to a truly digital India.”
Talking of the huge transition that these campaigns have seen over the years, Billa said the limitation of one photo publicity and 30 seconds of airtime footage has been taken care of by the digital campaigns. While print and television publicity have not vanished, digital arena is where the real flutter is for tourism-related advertisements.
On making Incredible India incredibly active on social media platforms, Billa said: “One needs different strokes for different folks, so we got ourselves a vendor who is active round the clock on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and all other platforms engaging the audience.”
Be it the use of Shah Rukh Khan’s indefatigable charm by West Bengal, or Arunachal Pradesh’s decision to channelise John Abraham’s adventurous persona as juicy tourism carrot, or Assam trying to cashing in on Priyanka Chopra’s still fresh Mary Kom image, states are utillising the nation’s obsession with Bollywood to boost tourism in their domain. These are happening over and above the Incredible India campaigns commissioned by the central government.
For all those who’ve contributed to the 1 million views of SRK’s promotional campaign for Bengal Tourism, it is not just about knowing what were the places to be and things to do in the state — they can also hum a little bit of Rabindra Sangeet, with SRK who croons Tagore’s Ogo Bideshini in the video.
“When every state tourism department is vying for attention with lavish campaigns, we knew that we should come up with a unique proposition for Bengal. ‘The sweetest part of India’ tagline seemed perfect given the sweetness of the language, the culture and, of course, our world-famous mishti,” said Sumanto Chattopadhyay, executive creative director of South Asia at Ogilvy & Mather, the agency that created the ad. O&M also handles accounts of other state tourism boards, including Gujarat and Rajasthan.
Benga l’s t ou r i s m d e p a r t ment p r i n - cipa l secretar y AR Bardhan said t he campaign with SRK wi l l help t he st at e p o p u l a r i s e e v e r ything that people didn’t know existed in Bengal. John Abraham v roomed hi s bi ke i nto t he hi l ly t errains of Arunachal Pradesh t o make sure his promotional campaign for the state also lead to skipped beats, not just for him but also for the north eastern landscapes. “Biking and adventure that are Abraham’s personal favourite are also two key highlights of what Arunachal Pradesh has to offer for tourists seeking an adrenaline rush,” state tourism secretary Joram Beda said, explaining the reasons to pick the actor .
To attract more and more people, campaigns have not just gone digital, they have also become more personal. O&M has created such a personalised campaign for Rajasthan, called ‘Jane kya dikh jaye’.
In one video under the campaign, Arya Kumar, a tourist, explains his experience.
“You know mirages right? I thought I was seeing one, in Thar, in the middle of the desert. I saw a bike modified to fit four, along with music speakers. It had to be mirage right? But no, it was the wild spirit of the sands.”