Splendid isolation vs joint selling
Has the time come for India to move away from the ‘stand-alone’ tag and align itself with neighbouring countries to attract more tourists or should it continue selling itself the way it is currently doing? Hear it out from agents...
Thanks to its vast size and diversity, India is in the unique position of being successful in selling itself both as a ‘stand-alone’ destination as well as in alignment with neighbouring countries. Formerly, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka were being sold by most of the tour operators, but the introduction of e-tourist visas that necessitated single entries, hampered this joint country selling.
We should stick to our ‘standalone’ marketing as we have lots to offer in comparison with our neighbouring countries. There was a time when India used to be the major inbound operating area in the region and the Indian agents used to also sell Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. However, today all these countries are getting direct business and it is no longer routed through India. This is because all FTOs today prefer to deal with local agents directly rather than through a consolidator. One can see this trend even within India.
Joint selling of a destination or because it enables joint marketing efforts and enhances the overall selling power. In earlier days, India and Nepal were sold together for mountain-related visits, but this stopped. Today, while India is marketing and selling itself well as an individual destination, business would get a boost with joint marketing and publicity campaigns.
While India has been an independent tourist destination up until now, the time has come for adapting to current scenarios. Most of the long-haul travellers would like to combine and include two or three countries in a visit. rewarding for India as a destination if we take along our neighbours also when doing destination promotions. A few examples that can be considered are India/Nepal/Bhutan, India/Bangladesh/Myanmar and India/ Sri Lanka/Maldives.
A country for all seasons and all reasons, India enables visitors to see the world, making it an ideal ‘standalone’ destination. However, keeping long-term gains in mind, India needs to promote regional tourism. Global trends show that tourists visiting the Indian subcontinent desire to visit neighbouring countries. For this, India has introduced e-tourist visas with multiple entries, 60-days’ stay and 28 entry airports. This enables tourists to return to India after visiting some regional countries.
enough attractions by itself to visit, and does not need to align itself with its neighbouring countries. The average global tourist is now looking for experiences and a ‘story’ rather than just a ‘point and shoot’ tour; each of India’s cities and states have so much to offer in terms of heritage, architecture, culture, cuisine and experiences. As of now, the average length of stay of a tourist in India is around 12-15 days and the secret to increase this is hidden in India’s 600,000 villages.
Considering India’s size and enormous tourist products and potential, the country should be selling itself as a ‘stand-alone’ destination. We don’t need to align with any neighbouring country because tourists have now started to move away from the trend of taking three or four-week holidays and are instead taking shorter holiday trips. India offers enough to keep them fully engaged and interested. However, efforts should be made to attract more tourists during the lean months, thereby making India a year-round destination.
India is a great civilisation and tourist product but it lacks global tourism promotion and marketing. India do joint marketing with neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives and Dubai because of their proximity tour operators are selling all these countries, and this makes sense because it also makes it easier for FTOs to deal with one agent for multiple destinations. The response of joint roadshows is also much better.
Rajiv Mehra Vice President, Indian Association ciation of Tour Operators
Lajpat Rai Chairman cum Managing Director, Lotus Trans Travels
Rajesh Mudgill Secretary, Indian Association of Tour Operators
Capt Swadesh Kumar Managing Director Shikhar Travels
Sanjeev K Nayar MIH, General Manager WelcomHeritage
Homa Mistry Trail Blazer Tours
Vijay Thakur President, India Vision Tours & Travels
Subhash Goyal Chairman STIC Travel Group