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Tuesday, 14 April, 2009, 18 : 00 PM [IST]

‘The key is to keep promoting the destination and create brand recall for the destination’ - Sujit Banerjee, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism (MoT)

Sujit Banerjee, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism (MoT) talks to Krupa Vora about creating a brand recall in the international market, Visit India 2009 and other key initiatives taken by MoT to promote 'Incredible India' and bring the country on the international tourist radar
Sujit Banerjee
How has the global slowdown affected the Indian tourism industry?
The global economic slowdown has affected tourism worldwide. Though there has also been a setback in tourism to India due to the worldwide economic conditions, Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) to the country were 5.37 million in 2008, an increase of 5.6 per cent over the previous year, as compared to worldwide tourist arrivals which grew at less than two per cent. The Foreign Exchange Earnings from the tourism sector in 2008 were to the tune of Rs 50,730 crore, an increase of 14.4 per cent over 2007. The whole global slowdown is like a cyclic effect; one climbs the peak, goes down and will recover and climb the peak again. The key is to keep promoting the destination and create brand recall in the minds of potential tourists and once the situation is better, they will visit the destination.

How does the Ministry look at promoting India in international markets?
We have participated in various international fairs like WTM in London and ITB in Berlin where we received very good response. Closer home, we are promoting the destination through the Great Indian Travel Bazaar 2009 (April 19-21, 2009) in Jaipur, Rajasthan. The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India is supporting the Great Indian Travel Bazaar (GITB) 2009 by sponsoring the international air travel for over 40 buyers from various countries like USA, Canada, UK, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, France, Switzerland, Israel, Germany, Austria, Ukraine, Netherlands, Belgium, China, Malaysia and Thailand.  In all, it is expected that there will be over 150 international buyer delegates from over 45 countries participating in the event. This is perhaps the first attempt by all the stakeholders to bring GITB to international standards like that of WTM in London and ITB in Berlin.

What are the key products that MoT will showcase at GITB 2009?
The brand, 'Incredible India' will be promoted at GITB this year. We will promote all the product offerings of India, i.e. Adventure, Wellness, Beach, Rural and Medical Tourism. MoT will focus on highlighting 'Visit India 2009' and its product offerings to the tourists. The 'Visit India 2009' scheme has been announced in collaboration with all stakeholders including airlines, hotels, tour operators, state governments for incentivising travel to India during the period April to December 2009. Within the scheme, seven different components are offered to tourists. These components are: one complimentary air ticket, one day complimentary stay in the hotel, one complimentary sightseeing tour in a city of tourists’ choice, one complimentary rural and eco holiday destination, book for seven day and pay for six days on trains like Golden Odyssey and one treatment complimentary under Medical Tourism. We have included 15 Rural Tourism sites under Visit India 2009.

Which are the other activities undertaken by MoT to place India on the global tourist radar?
To increase tourist traffic to the country, promotional initiatives have been taken in the form of familiarization (FAM) tours to India and also a series of road shows that are conducted in collaboration with Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO). FAM trips for international travel trade and media representatives have been arranged to keep them updated on the safety and security conditions in different parts of the country. A series of road shows have been conducted in important tourist generating countries like Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, UK, Ireland, South Korea and Japan. In May 2009, road shows will be conducted in Dubai, Bahrain, Muscat, USA and Canada. Media campaigns have been launched through various media channels like print, electronic, online and outdoor media.
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