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Saturday, 18 February, 2017, 15 : 43 PM [IST]

Applaud & Apprise

In a recent press briefing by an overseas tourism board in Delhi, one of the journalists enquired about the inbound numbers from that European country to India, while Indian outbound numbers and overnights to that nation have recorded unprecedented growth of over 25% last year. She didn’t mince words and said India has an image problem as they hear only negative things about the country all the time.

The remark, although lacking diplomacy, cannot be swept under the carpet, altogether, especially at a time when the government has proposed to reinvigorate the Incredible India brand marketing campaign with a 2.0 version, in this year’s annual budget. It is a proven fact that the destination marketing activities of India through our Indiatourism offices haven’t been organised well with right intention over the years. Gross financial irregularities, administrative lapses have been reported from many Indiatourism offices abroad and official enquiry is underway at six such offices, if the Parliament reply of the Tourism Minister himself is to be believed.

It is a welcome move on the part of the government that it wants to act simultaneously on the brand marketing side and on the infrastructure front to transform India’s tourism fortunes. Otherwise, tourism has so far been marketing-oriented with scant regard for infrastructure creation. Also, at least in this Budget, the government has shown the will to look beyond the bare basics of PRASAD, HRIDAY, etc., which smacked certain parochial cultural slang!

The proposal to set up five Special Tourism Zones (STZ) with the support of the states anchored on a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) is a step in the right direction, considering the country hasn’t been able to create reasons beyond culture and heritage to appeal different segments of travellers till now. The government has also commenced the process of opening identified islands in Andamans and Lakshadweep for island tourism development in the right earnest.

While these are absolutely futuristic and visionary initiatives which can change the face of country’s tourism in the longer term, such mega projects could invite resistance from various quarters as it demands pooling of large tracts of land and scrutiny of various regulatory frameworks concerning coastal development, environment, etc. Dissenting voices have already started picking momentum. People and agencies who work for equitable, inclusive and sustainable tourism have already started raising their concerns against the tourism agenda being dictated and implemented on the behest of the mainstream industry!



PKrishna Kumar
Bureau Chief, New Delhi
krishna.kumar@saffronsynergies.in
 
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