It’s always easy to have armchair discussions about what the government should do and what it isn’t doing. Notwithstanding that, here are a few things we’d love to suggest to the tourism ministry, because we can’t help but say again and again that India can make a lot of money off its tourism wealth but it we are simply letting opportunities slip from our hands.
Allow corporate sponsorship for heritage buildings
One of the biggest charms of Indian tourism is its architecture and wealth of historic monuments. And there’s a long list of heritage monuments that are still sitting in squalid environments.
An effective solution for this would be to outsource the maintenance and exterior lighting of the heritage monument to corporate giants in return for some branding opportunity at the monument.
Many think this is outright commercialisation. But this is a much better option than leaving it an abandoned state and let it decay.
Create experiences, not sightseeing spots
If you closely notice, many tourist destinations around the world are merely made up of created experiences. Be it botanical gardens, architectural monuments, backwaters, the Himalayas, the tourism ministry should see the potential of a place to attract tourists rather than merely banking on the natural beauty of a place.
The tourism industry which includes the government and private players, need to manipulate destinations as experiences and not sightseeing point alone.
For instance, steps can be taken to make the tour replete with tour guides, activities for the children, culinary tours, interactivity for the tourist with the culture of the place etc.
Build great roads and access points
It would completely wrong on anyone’s part to simply say ‘Create better infrastructure’. This is a very generic statement. But it is critical to build good roads and approach points to a certain tourist destination.
For foreign and domestic tourists alike, a bumpy ride with potholes and a punctured tire only to reach an exotic Indian destination is no good.
Packaged train travel, easy bus connections and safe car hire services with knowledgeable personnel combines with great freeways and highways may sound utopian but are critical features for an unmatched tourist experience.
Aggressive tourism marketing strategies
Many people seem to be having a problem with exoticizing India to the West but at some point if that strategy allows for the raking in of moolah, then why not? We’re not promoting India as the land of snakes and charmers anymore, but the tourism ministry should surely pursue aggressive online and other marketing strategies to promote India as a must-visit location. Whether it is broadcasting ‘Incredible India’ campaigns abroad, holding tourism seminars or offering Indian locations with facilities to promote foreign film productions in the country. Aggressive marketing is absolutely critical to be seen and heard well.
Sell niche tourism areas separately
India is currently in a position where it can make a cash cow out of selling customized experiences, luxury spa sessions, rare animal sanctuaries, religious pilgrimage tours and extreme Himalaya tours.
With too many points of differentiation available, Indian tourism should focus on how it has something on offer for everyone in every category with all budgets. India on shoestring, India in luxury, the royal India, urban India, the common man’s India, historical India and much more.
The way information is packaged and distributed can go a long way in improving tourist traffic in the country.
Although the government has already started making a lot of improvements in this area, we still have a long way to go to let tourism alone generate significant revenue for the country.
We need to capitalize on India as a destination where the royal Bengal tiger, a common labourer, a few millionaires, religious dichotomies, exotic culinary treasures and some of the most expensive spas of the world co-exist. Now, that’s quite a challenge, isn’t it?
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