Assam Tourism is looking to attract domestic tourists for its cruises on the River Brahmaputra, and for this, the tourism board will be adding a new vessel to their fleet by early next year. Talking about the same, Manoj Kumar Deka, Director, Assam Tourism, said, “We have two cruise liners currently under Public Private Partnership, and they majorly attract foreign tourists. We will have another vessel, which will be announced in February or March 2016. With the new ship, we want to target domestic tourists, and so this one will be economical and will cover shorter distances, as compared to the existing cruise ships that are generally heavily booked, as early as six months in advance.”
Deka added that they are have a target of increasing the number of domestic tourists to Assam by 10-15 lakh and Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) by 10,000, for this year. Last year, 4,600,000 domestic tourists visited Assam, while 25,000 foreigners toured the state.
For the same, Assam Tourism is focusing on promoting the destination. “We have opted for advertising with airlines. From next month, we will begin advertising with one airline a month, and have confirmed IndiGo and SpiceJet, and Jet Airways (for international routes) for the same. For each, we will have a different branding. So, while IndiGo will have our advertisement on brass handles, SpiceJet travellers will see our branding on steel packs and panels. On Jet Airways’ flights, we will have a 30-second video in the in-flight entertainment system of the airline, which will be played on flights to South East Asia and Europe.”
The branding exercise will be undertaken on flights of IndiGo and SpiceJet, covering Gujarat, Maharashtra, and southern states like Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. “We are also in talks with Air India to brand Assam Tourism on their baggage tags and boarding passes,” elaborated Deka.
Apart from these measures, Assam Tourism is looking to advertise along the T3 passages, near the gates at Delhi Airport, starting from October 2015. “We are also in talks with the Indian Railways to advertise on the tickets of high-end trains, namely Rajdhani, August Kranti, Duronto, and Shatabdi,” Deka informed.
About the lucrative domestic markets for Assam Tourism, Deka said that West Bengal contributes 60-70 per cent to the North-Eastern state’s tourism, while Gujarat is also among the top source markets. “Maharashtra is one of our focus states, and we are targeting tourists from Mumbai and Pune,” he added. The state tourism board had recently conducted roadshows in the two cities.
Further, speaking about the highlights of Assam as a tourist destination, Deka said, “Wildlife and Religious Tourism are our USPs. We are also focusing on Tea and Golf Tourism. We have 24 golf courses, and many of them are surrounded by tea gardens. This is a unique feature of Assam. Many golf courses in Assam have heritage tea bungalows, which are colonial and date back to 1890s.”