Aviation, tourism go hand in hand

In order to drive domestic demand, Ministry of Tourism is planning small boutique roadshows and will soon be offering Dekho Apna Desh webinars in a crisper format to put the right information across.

Nisha Verma

Rupinder Brar, Additional Director General, Ministry of Tourism (MOT), has shared that right now, the Ministry is in the process of consolidating and improving on the initiatives already taken. “We are trying to make more films and generate more content on social media to be used in a big way. That’s one area where we are getting a lot of response in terms of user-generated content and interestingly, a lot of content is coming from new locations. Hence, we are very happy to see that the itineraries we received from states, which in turn were shared with tour operates as well as circulated in local media, have resulted in people travelling to these places. Also, with the response for the Dekho Apna Desh webinars being outstanding, we are crafting snippets of these webinars,” she says.

Domestic marketing
To step up domestic demand, Brar informs that the Ministry has been working on a plan to place promotional material at key airports. “We’ve had extensive discussions with Airports Authority of India (AAI) and will be entering discussions with private concessioners at some of the airports to look at ways to showcase the message of Dekho Apna Desh and different products of Incredible India to domestic travellers. Billboards, brochures andvideos have already started coming from different regional offices. They are already doing small boutique events with local trade partners and different stakeholders, carrying forward the engine of domestic tourism,” she adds.

Other engagement with trade
Brar reveals that MOT is planning small boutique roadshows, some of which will be led by the Minister, while others will be led by senior MOT officials or regional directors. “The idea is to do events which will have around 35-40 or maximum, 50 people. This would include the trade, hoteliers and media, and we hope to showcase new itineraries. With this, we are hoping to drive domestic demand and create confidence. We will also seek to address issues and learn about good practices, especially innovative ideas on employing digital technology. We will do all this while making sure social distancing is maintained and lead by example in terms of doing events in the future. The events may also involve citizens, as some of the roadshows will have city-walks. While some roadshows have already started at regional-director level, we are hoping that the Minister will kick-start the same in early December. We will begin from Ahmedabad and go to Kevadia,” she informs.

International marketing
MOT’s international promotional strategy is still under construction, says Brar, adding that the emphasis this time will be on short-haul flights, countries and destinations from where people can actually travel in times to come. “We are also going to be more focused on ensuring the right products are promoted in a particular market. There will be more focus-driven campaigns this time. It’s an ongoing exercise as we keep getting more inputs from our trade partners. We will also be focusing on South Asia and Southeast Asia, as well as on tapping some new markets. Apart from that, there will be emphasis on the Indian diaspora interested in travelling back home.”

The ADG claims that there is a lot of improvement in terms of infrastructure and flight connectivity in these times, hence, the Ministry will focus on countries from where there are direct flights to India and/or to different cities of India. For this, MOT is working with Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA).

Development of Buddhist regions
Commenting on India not pushing enough as a Buddhist destination, Brar points out, “The kind of heritage we have of Lord Buddha, right from him attaining enlightenment and the first sermon he delivered, to his pari nirvana (nirvana-after-death), is a matter of pride for us and a pity at the same time that we have not leveraged on it. It’s only recently that the government has begun thrusting on an integrated development to leverage the legacy of Lord Buddha in India, and MOT being the nodal ministry is looking at bringing this story forward not only for Southeast Asia where there are a large number of Buddhists, but also to other parts of the world where there are a lot of practitioners of Buddhism. Hence, there is a lot of focus on developing infrastructure for roads, rail and airports. We are working very closely with other ministries to make sure that we showcase India as the ‘Land of Buddha’, as it’s indeed a matter of great privilege for us.”

Pradeep Singh, Kharola, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, has said that while the aviation industry is trying to come back to normal, it is time that even with the hospitality and tourism industries, something similar is done to encourage people to travel. “Aviation is moving towards normal. It has become the preferred mode of travel now. This approach of normalcy in aviation has to be brought in the tourism industry and for this, we have to convince people that it’s safe to travel.”

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