The COVID-19 pandemic has put a furrow on the Indian tourism industry like never before, as domestic and international travel and tourism plans are shrouded in a veil of uncertainty. In such times, it is imperative that we model a new-normal for the tourism industry. The model needs to be such that it inculcates multiple dimensions of the proposed new-normal, with the revival of the sector at the forefront of all efforts by the Government and the Industry.
The idea of revamping India to become a prominent tourism destination of the world needs to be pushed in the coming days and weeks. As we remain sceptical of international tourist footfall in the coming months, it gives us the opportunity to enhance certain areas on the domestic front that are full of potential.
This potential needs to be garnered with the convergence of efforts by the Government, the Industry and all involved stakeholders. The Indian tourism market needs to convert the COVID-19 induced challenge into an opportunity to cater to the domestic needs of the population by advertising, marketing and promoting tourist destinations to help increase domestic tourist footfall. This will help generate further revenue post the COVID-19 crisis as we take this time to further develop certain tourist destinations.
Our marketing and branding strategy needs to be revamped to highlight India’s inherent strengths. It is imperative that we raise awareness, first and foremost, among our own citizens regarding the various destinations that India has to offer. India has the potential to attract tourists from across the world through its scenic, architectural and monumental beauty along with its niche in traditional and cultural values. Branding India to the world should focus on the nation’s competitive advantage of diverse places, price points and people.
The table highlights India’s strength among cultural, natural and mixed heritage sites. They are spread across the length and breadth of the nation. Therefore, an aggressive promotional campaign that highlights the above needs to be undertaken.
Although it is extremely important to have a revised National Tourism Policy that acts as an overarching umbrella for the development of tourism in India, it is equally important that state-wise tourism policies also focus on the development of the states’ own tourist attractions and destinations. A one-size fits all strategy will not work, and therefore we need an on-the-ground approach to help develop tourism from the grassroot levels. There are multiple potential opportunities that express India’s cultures, values and traditions and can be leveraged if we strive to create state tourism policies from the grassroots up. Greater engagement and coordination between the state governments and Industry will yield effective and more focused results.
Transport infrastructure is the lifeline of any economy. It improves the efficiency and productivity of a nation while allowing for inclusive growth by connecting urban and rural areas. Transportation issues affect a nation’s progress in tourism, as they hinder the footfall and arrival of tourists owing to the uncertainty that arises from moving between destinations. Tourism planning hinges on the connectivity of different sites to create circuits that are accessible. In this regard, road connectivity is one of the fundamental components to a successfully developed tourism market. It is primarily responsible for connecting tourism-generation regions and well-developed road infrastructure plays a significant role in the competitiveness of the economy. There are certain regions and circuits that require immediate attention from the Government to potentially boost tourist footfall.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the entire travel and tourism sector, and potential successive waves of infection in the future may dampen all projections of recovery. However, it is important that we use this time to develop tourism across the country by undertaking new ventures that will promote and place India as one of the top destinations to visit for the world.
The article by Mr Deep Kalra, Co-Chairman, CII National Committee on Tourism & Hospitality and Founder & Group Executive Chairman, MakeMyTrip Ltd, first appeared in the July 2021 issue of CII Policy Watch. Click here to read.