COVER STORY : Incredible India 2.0, will it be a game-changer?

COVER STORY : Incredible India 2.0, will it be a game-changer?

The announcement of the launch of Incredible India 2.0 campaign by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his recent budget presentation and making budget allocation for it is a step in a right direction. To make the new campaign a great success, the government must adopt an inclusive approach.

While presenting the Union Budget 2017-18, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley underlined the importance of Tourism Industry, and recognizing the need to renew the country’s tourism marketing efforts, he announced the launching of the second phase of Incredible India Campaign from FY 2017-18. The industry and experts have welcomed the move, who had been asking for this for a long time. The campaign will be run in international markets across the world with renewed approach and focus. According to Tourism Secretary Vinod Zuthsi, the campaign will also cover non-traditional markets such as China, East Asia and CIS countries.

Although the MoT is yet to reveal the blueprint of the new campaign, the industry experts suggest that the campaign should be run through online and social media. They also think that the campaign should showcase all aspects of our tourism offerings rather than focusing only on heritage and culture. Welcoming the announcement of the new campaign, Karan Anand, Head-Relationships, Cox and Kings, “The government has maintained its strategic focus on tourism as it believes that this sector can contribute immensely to employment generation and uniform development of the country. The budget announcement was a step in that direction.” As far as focus areas of this campaign are concerned, Anand said that the government needs to broad base Incredible India campaign. “It is no longer about releasing advertisements in international magazines or creating TVCs. Yes, this has to happen hand in hand with a concentrated online marketing campaign. The world has gone digital and we should monetise our resources by effectively engaging with potential tourists who shop around in search of destinations” . Anand added, “We need to showcase our composite offerings and this can also be supplemented by the state governments who have their own campaigns. We also need to engage with the younger audience. We should showcase our destination to this segment as they travel in large numbers.”

India accounts for less than one per cent in the global tourism market, whereas India has great potential to become a popular tourist destination due to its varied and rich cultural heritage. “We believe that the announcement of the launch of Incredible India 2.0 campaign is a positive step to boost tourism and employment worldwide. The strategic vision for this campaign will create a momentum for both domestic and inbound tourism,” said Andre Gomez, Head of Operations – India, Hilton. He added that the budget also focuses on building infrastructure with considerable investments in railways, roads and Tier 2 cities to boost regional connectivity and encourage tourists to visit more places within India. This kind of a vision and support by the government will definitely help in creating awareness and will help India gain a distinct competitive edge over other tourist destinations.

Welcoming the announcement, Pradeep Kalra, Senior VP–Sales & Marketing, Sarovar Hotels said, “We are positive that the new initiatives will bring in bigger benefit to the industry. The campaign should lead to higher tourist interest and arrivals from overseas as well as wider movement of domestic tourists. It is expected to create larger demand and opportunity for the hospitality industry.” Rishi Puri, Vice President, Lords Hotels & Resorts also welcomed the announcement of the launch of Incredible India 2.0 campaign in FY 2017-18. “It is a positive and proactive The announcement of the launch of Incredible India 2.0 campaign by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his recent budget presentation and making budget allocation for it is a step in a right direction. To make the new campaign a great success, the government must adopt an inclusive approach. Incredible India 2.0, will it be a game-changer? Karan Anand Head-Relationships, Cox & Kings Andre Gomez Head of Operations – India, Hilton vBY Prem Kumar March 2017–Final_Layout 1 3/2/2017 9:13 PM Page 20 step to promote tourism in the country. The FM’s announcement has only reinstated the Government’s position towards tourism. A well-defined road map and a significantly higher allocation of budgets to this sector in this Financial Year are an indication that things may look up for the travel and hospitality sector too,” said Puri.

Gomez stated that the Budget for 2017- 18 lays emphasis on a significant development in infrastructural reforms and a cleaner country. He added that there is a need for developing necessary infrastructure to promote India’s tourism and the success of the Swachh Bharat campaign will definitely make a notable difference. “It is also crucial to boost India as a lucrative MICE and wedding destination, especially from APAC countries. Another important aspect that would attract tourists is by creating experiences for them at the key tourist destinations and not just relying on the natural beauty of the place and letting them visit these places as sightseeing spots. This can be done by deploying adequate resources and setting up various activities like adventure sports, water sports, culinary experiences etc.”

According to Kalra, the campaign should showcase India as a multi-faceted tourist destination and highlight different hues within the country whether it’s the beaches, mountains, exotic culture or India being the destination for yoga. The world class hospitality that India has to offer can also add towards bringing in greater tourist interests. India is a diverse country and offers various destinations for tourists to visit, ranging from the Great Himalayan Range to the ancient monuments and temples and then the southern coast with beautiful beaches, says Gomez, adding, “Since the country has so much to offer, marketing India as a tourist destination is extremely challenging as the tourists are unable to cover the entire country in one visit. With this great initiative of the Incredible India campaign 2.0 by the government, many challenges in marketing the country will be resolved.” He added that the initiatives taken by the government to ensure safety of women and the Swachh Bharat campaign are further a step in this direction.

Some of India’s states have done exceptionally well in promoting their tourism while others are far behind. “If the Centre leverages everything into one package, it will bring a multiplier effect to the tourism promotion of brand India. However, a budget of just 300 Crores for a worldwide campaign needs to go up significantly. Other than this to attract more tourists, the campaign could be more personal like the one Rajasthan created with ‘Jaane kya dikh jaaye’ campaign,” said Puri. “While promoting tourism to increase the Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs), the Incredible Indian 2.0 marketing campaign could be strategically designed to promote domestic tourism. It could also align or integrate with individual State’s campaigns which would create a better impact.” Puri further said that new projects in hospitality especially in the smaller towns and in tier 2 cities may benefit from this campaign. This is because the Government will be focusing on developing transport infrastructure in these cities and towns. “With better connectivity, accessibility increases and there are so many unexplored or underrated places in India which would easily increase the tourist footfall. This translates to business opportunities for tour and travel operators and eventually the hotel industry. Also, individual States that are inviting businesses to set up shops there by promoting ease of doing business coupled with the Centre’s boost by means of sops to the sector would certainly prove beneficial to the hospitality industry.”

As per Kalara, multiplicity of taxes, lack of infrastructure, airports, roads, train connectivity etc. and India being a long haul destination for many countries are some of the disadvantages the country has to face.

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