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

The Economic Times - - Saturday Feature -

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.

DIG­I­TAL PUSH

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.”

BOL­LY­WOOD PULL

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 .

GET­TING PER­SONAL

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.”

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