New flavours in In­dia's plat­ter

In­dia Tourism is pulling out all stops to make the In­dia ex­pe­ri­ence in­cred­i­ble. MOT is show­cas­ing new flavours and ex­pe­ri­ences among tourists, trade op­er­a­tors and agents. Su­man Billa, Joint Sec­re­tary, MOT, tells more. TRAVTALK

TravTalk - India - - NEWS - PE­DEN DOMA BHUTIA

QThe In­dia stall at this year’s ITB Ber­lin had a few new el­e­ments such as vir­tual re­al­ity. What are the var­i­ous me­dia used to en­gage more peo­ple to raise aware­ness about the coun­try?

It is about the ex­pe­ri­ence we give our vis­i­tors, we re­alise that when peo­ple come to a trade fair they come for busi­ness but we also feel the need to make it lively and at­trac­tive, to give them a flavour of what it is like to be in In­dia. The vir­tual re­al­ity piece is some­thing that we have cre­ated be­cause In­dia is very pop­u­lar for cer­tain el­e­ments and so it’s also some­thing fun to do for peo­ple and per­haps click a selfie. That’s not all, it also helps us to keep a track of peo­ple as once they have taken the pic­ture they need to log in to our so­cial me­dia plat­form from where they can re­trieve the pic­ture. So, it’s a good way to cre­ate a data­base of trade op­er­a­tors who come here. It’s also a good way for us to get a list of the at­ten­dees and of course the ones who are in­ter­ested in the In­dia mar­ket. This year at ITB Ber­lin we had a lot more cul­tural per­for­mances, a yoga pro­gramme and some fun ac­tiv­i­ties in­volv­ing Bol­ly­wood. One of the things we did this year is to ask states to bring their artists to these fairs where we have cre­ated a plat­form for them to per­form.

QHow do such fairs help pro­mote a coun­try as var­ied and big as In­dia. What’s the dif­fer­ence be­tween road­shows and fairs?

Fairs are im­por­tant from the point of view of re­tain­ing con­nec­tiv­ity with those we do busi­ness with, be­cause it’s im­por­tant for you to come face to face with your busi­ness part­ners. It’s a good way to con­nect with them but fairs also tend to be very busy as the buy­ers have sev­eral com­pet­ing meet­ings to at­tend. One needs to evolve a com­bi­na­tion of trade fairs where we re­tain busi­ness and con­tinue with client base but we also need to do road­shows where we bring in new busi­ness. The road­show for­mat is more suit­able for get­ting new busi­ness.

QIn­dia has a lot of when it comes to safety and se­cu­rity. How is the Min­istry of Tourism work­ing to cor­rect this image? This con­cern was very live three years ago but now I don’t think this is­sue ex­ists as promi­nently as it did be­fore. Firstly, we have ap­pointed a PR agency now. All the 100 pos­i­tive things that hap­pen in In­dia go un­re­ported, but when one bad thing hap­pens gets promi­nence, so we are work­ing with the PR agency to look at all pos­i­tive things that hap­pen in In­dia, es­pe­cially with re­gards to women. That’s a per­spec­tive that peo­ple need to get about In­dia.

Se­condly, we have strong so­cial me­dia han­dles in which we are prop­a­gat­ing these mes­sages, we also have an In­cred­i­ble In­dia EU han­dle.

And thirdly, last year we got a DRV work­shop, DRV is the largest tour and travel agent as­so­ci­a­tion in Ger­many. We flew in 60 peo­ple from Ger­many into In­dia and di­vided them into four groups – East, West, North and South. We told them to travel, go around and then come back to Delhi and have a de­brief­ing. Once back, they unan­i­mously said that the In­dia they saw is noth­ing like what they had in mind, and that’s ex­actly what we wanted. We didn’t want them to sell it be­cause we are ask­ing them to, we wanted them to ex­pe­ri­ence the real In­dia. We are plan­ning such ex­er­cises with other coun­tries as well.

One needs to evolve a com­bi­na­tion of trade fairs where we re­tain busi­ness and con­tinue with client base but we also need to do road­shows where we bring in new busi­ness. Su­man Billa Joint Sec­re­tary, Min­istry of Tourism, Govt of In­dia

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