PATA India’s 15th Update and Outlook Meeting saw Rakesh Verma, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, sharing details of the recently announced National Tourism Board of India (NTBI), which would be a game changer for India’s promotional and marketing drive overseas
Claiming that in the time of current challenges, there is a need to refresh India Tourism’s current brand positioning and overall strategic plans, Rakesh Verma, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, said, “We have been constrained by two factors—one was about our overseas offices where there was a change in the policy and thinking, which needed to be crystallized. Second was our scheme for overseas promotion, which was held up because of certain procedural issues. Now we have cleared these two issues, we have clarity, and it is coming in the shape of National Tourism Board of India.”
Sharing statistics, he said, “In 2019, our Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) were 10.93 million, and the remaining were NRIs. Within that, US and UK made up for about 34 per cent of FTAs. Thus, there are many things to be targeted and done to improve our position and reach. As part of our new policy, we are targeting two percent of global travellers.”
Need for NTBI
Saying that the country’s brand must be established by the government, he added, “The ministerial formations are good for policy making, strategy and oversight, but for operational reasons, dedicated organisation is needed. That’s where this demand to set up NTBI was there for a long time. Now we seem to be reaching there,” he said
Verma explained that for practical reasons they incorporated the board as a not-for-profit company under the Company’s Act. “It will be treated as a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), unlike a commercial PSU, for overseas promotion. The SPV under the company format gives the advantage of having basic compliances in place. This makes sure that the functioning remains centred around professional requirements,” he said.
“The overarching mandate is that NTBI will be the nodal agency of Government of India (GoI) for promotion and development of tourism sector under the aegis of MOT and we are starting with core mandate of marketing and promotion. In due course, other subjects can also be given to the board,” he highlighted.
The very reason and essence of setting up this board is to enhance the contribution of tourism, enhance market share, both in terms of usual tourism but also MICE and position our destinations in overseas markets, he claimed. “Thus, complete management of Incredible India brand will be with the board. Apart from the formation of the board, we have suggested an integrated marketing strategy, which will be implemented through this board, focusing on India as a year-round word class tourist destination. This board will be engaging with Indian missions abroad, Indian diaspora and with market representation agencies,” he said.
“Within the country, they will work with the state tourism boards and the private sector to jointly plan for marketing and promotion activities. The board will represent India in most events, including travel trade shows, roadshows or anything that we organise. They will also be building research and strategy wing, so that we are informed of proper data evidence for developing our policies. The board will also help in digitalisation,” he added.
He shared that at the organisational level, they will have board of directors, where four ministries and four industry professionals will be represented. “Four representatives from key ministries of –Culture, Civil Aviation, External Affairs and Commerce will be there on the board. Similarly, from the industry, four professionals from different verticals will be nominated. For the transition period, the Director General, MOT, will be the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, but within three years, we will get a private sector professional to help the board in due course,” he shared.
Funding of this board will be by MOT from its plan schemes. “The board will get about 10 per cent as management fee to look after the other administrative expenses. It will also be provided support for the core staff, and in due course with 10 per cent of management fee, they could develop their own corpus and run on their own. The initial setup cost will be borne by the government. We have also looked at the budget required for next two years.”