Having conducted more than 100 virtual sessions with the trade across India so far, Indiatourism has not only been encouraging them to register with MOT but also advocating digital marketing as the means to promote Incredible India – with an MDA of Rs. 50,000.
Indiatourism has been doing an ‘incredible’ job in reaching out to the travel trade since the pandemic hit us. The messaging has been consistent – register with the Ministry of Tourism and take advantage of its MDA scheme and promote India domestically as well as internationally. Not missing a single beat is Venkatesan Dhattareyan, Regional Director, Indiatourism Mumbai – Incredible India, Ministry of Tourism. Whether it is addressing the various travel trade association members over multiple webinars or conducting its own virtual sessions for one and all, he has been active consistently. He says, “The main agenda is to inform all travel agents and tour operators of the revised guidelines of the MOT to make it simpler and easier for the service providers. Secondly, this is also linked to the online IITF certification programme for tour guides. This is especially beneficial for those in rural areas. Thirdly, the Market Development Assistance (MDA) scheme has been expanded in a big way since December 2020. We have so far conducted more than 100 virtual sessions across India.”
`50,000 MDA for digital marketing: MDA was expanded not only for attending trade shows but also conferences, conventions and roadshows. Another major thing which was revised is extending support for online marketing. This however does not include building websites but paid ads on social media since digital marketing is an effective mode of promotion at `50,000 per year. Sharing some of the highlights of this programme’s benefits, Dhattareyan says, “This is a stamp of standard by the Government of India. It is a big marketing tool as well and lends credibility to the service provider. We have received many queries from foreign tour operators and those from other states in India asking if a particular agency is reliable or not. We go back and check our database and give a go-ahead if they are in our database. This is where this recognition also helps. Agencies also automatically get a listing in the MOT website.” He added that domestic tourism continues to be an important contributor to the tourism sector providing much needed resilience. Focusing on domestic tourism potential, encouraging fellow countrymen to explore their own country, taking a much-needed break within their own borders will be a winning strategy for India as the country eases lockdown.
Roping in outbound agents
More importantly, Indiatourism has also conducted a session with the Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI) which Dhattareyan says is quite historic. “They traditionally promote destinations outside of India. But they have now come forward to learn about India. They will need product-specific destination information from experts – so that they can also understand the potential of Chhattisgarh or Jharkhand. It gives even the outbound tour operators a chance to learn something new. This is another avenue that we are trying to explore – outbound operators,” he says.