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Survival to Revival!

Covid-19 has brought about a paradigm shift in the way destinations are marketed and promoted. There has been a huge emphasis on digital tools to convey the message and this has led to innovations in how destinations are marketed. Countries across the world suffered due to various reasons.

The second wave of last year which took a heavy toll on human lives also impacted India as a destination and influenced the thought process of people keen on travelling to India either on work or holiday.

As we enter a new phase of our normal lives, it is important to take a closer look at how we promote our destination. We have a set of capable officers in the Tourism Ministry who are driving our engagement with global tour operators and travel agents to drive numbers into India.

If perception is a key element, we need to highlight our vast potential in terms of tourism infrastructure. People should feel comfortable that when travelling to India they can access to global standard facilities, including medical, even in smaller towns as the Covid-19 crisis is not behind us and we need to be careful.

We need to have a targeted outreach plan in our key markets, which are the low hanging fruits. These will help us generate confidence amongst the larger sections of overseas visitors about India as they have many other choices.

Second, we need to have a dedicated marketing and publicity agency that can steward our campaign and redesign our communication as we compete with the rest of the world for the tourism dollar.

This is also the time for the domestic tourism industry to focus on growing the numbers. Though they have had a good run in the last year, it has been skewed towards the large chains that operate in India. They are the beneficiaries and this pie has to grow so that even the smaller players stand to benefit. Local hotels, resorts and wayside amenities have all felt the brunt of Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdowns. It is time that the government focuses on reviving them. 

Tourism employs over 10 per cent of our total workforce and the government should focus on them. Tour operators and travel agents working in the domestic market should see an increase in employment as the sector revives after two years. Foreign tourists are key to the growth of the Indian tourism industry. While the last two years saw a surge in domestic tourism, it was because outbound was largely closed due to flight restrictions. This will change as Indians will have more options to choose from and their first preference will always be an international holiday.

The government and the private sector will have to play a big role in positioning India as a much sought-after destination not only for foreign tourists but also for Indians.

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