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...

TravTalk - India - - QUICKBYTES - In­der Raj Ah­luwalia

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

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