PATA India Chapter recently held an Exclusive Webinar with Rupinder Brar, former ADG, Ministry of Tourism, and Principal Commissioner, Income Tax, titled ‘Shaping the destiny of Incredible India’, which saw her covering many areas that may help boost tourism in India.
Rupinder Brar, former ADG, Ministry of Tourism (MOT), and Principal Commissioner, Income Tax, focused on sharing her learnings from the three years of her tenure in the MOT and gave her advice to the PATA India membership. She divided her address in five subjects destinations, hotels, connectivity talent, and heritage.
What sets India apart
Brar claimed that a SWOT analysis need to be done of the tourism sector. “It’s important to do an analysis of the strengths of India, which must happen on a global context. It should be a realistic evaluation, looking at where we are and what are our strengths. Apart from being an ancient civilization with many layers, India is a young country. Looking at the young population in India, there is a demographic dividend, which too is a strength. We are also a country that is driving technology solutions across the world. However, we must know if any other country has all of it together in one place or not. That is what will give us confidence,” she said.
Looking at the numbers that come into India in terms of the global traffic, she said, “We have many more milestones to gather. If you look at the revenue earnings in forex, a lot of things must be done there. In terms of domestic tourists, barring the COVID times, we lose a huge amount of money to the world and are not able to retain the domestic tourists. Hence, we need to think what we need to do on the government side, right from policy formulation to the execution part of it.”
Target UNESCO sites
Saying that the destinations in India can be classified as World Heritage, UNESCO, State held Heritage and privately held heritage. “However, we are not able to create a world-class experience in most of them. We need to do a lot more. At MOT, we need to identify 40 UNESCO heritage sites and make sure that each of them competes with the best globally,” she said.
Skilling & infra crucial
The other thing which also becomes extremely important, Brar said, is, “We should improve, upgrade and upskill the quality of the manpower available at the destinations.”
Brar said that strategically, as a young country, we need to understand that not every part of the country is going to be marketable at the same time. “While there is a lot of growth stories happening in terms of infrastructure, we need to be strategic in the short-term, mid-term and in the long-term. We need to identify pockets and step out of the more traditional triangles and say that there is more to India in terms of experiences, connectivity and hospitality,” she said.
Spirituality is key
“While we are remembered for the heritage and ancient history, we are a country where four religions have been born. It is a strength for us and we can definitely market that well. Thus, I believe that spiritual tourism is a fantastic product for India,” she claimed.
Highlighting some focus areas, Brar said, “In terms of mid-term growing areas, medical tourism is growing in a big way. Other potential sectors in the mid-term include cruise tourism, adventure tourism including wildlife. In the mid-term, we need to brand ourselves as a country, which has so much to offer both in terms of adventure as well as wildlife. We are clearly missing out a lot of high-end crowd in these areas.”
She stressed that there is a need to reposition or to chisel the positioning of India. “If the government gets on board to do it, it makes much more sense. Also, since the sector is highly driven by the stakeholders, the nudge and the advocacy needs to be very strong,” she claimed.
When it comes to ministry coordinating the B2B overseas engagements, Brar shared, “While some bit has started in terms of virtual roadshows, but it’s not happening as much as it should. We need to push the pedestal a little more.
Focus on diaspora
Saying that the Indian diaspora is a huge segment for India. “We have a huge segment there to create an outreach with, because the children growing up in Indian today are virtually on the same page. A lot of work must be done in terms of creating the right communication strategy for those Indians,” she claimed.