Incredible India started off as a marketing campaign in 2002 by the Government of India to boost tourism in the country and project India as a credible tourist destination. The incredible diversity that exists in India, be it the people and their customs or the topography, lends itself perfectly to the slogan ‘Incredible India’. But if only a marketing campaign could bring tourists to a country, then, all countries would invest heavily in marketing, rather than making the country tourist friendly.
The biggest advantage that India has from the perspective of tourism is its diversity. Very few countries in the world have this eclectic fusion of the traditional and the modern, the historical and the contemporary, the mountains and the seas, the deserts and the forests, and the different religions and communities. Yet, India received only 2.4 million (approx.) foreign tourists in 2001. By contrast, Switzerland received close to six million tourists and Spain more than 13 million. To check this gross imbalance and exploit the untapped potential of India as a destination for international tourists, the Government launched the ‘Incredible India’ campaign and formulated the National Tourism Policy in 2002.
Incredible India- the campaign
The campaign marked the first concerted effort by the Government of India to tap into the vast tourism potential of the country in an organised manner. Launched in 2002, the government hired professionals and engaged the services of Ogilvy & Mather (India) to formulate an integrated communication strategy aimed at promoting India as the preferred destination for the international traveller. The campaign highlighted various facets of Indian culture and history such as yoga, spirituality, festivals, monuments such as the Taj Mahal and so on.
Impact of the campaign
The campaign proved to be successful, leading to a 16% increase in tourist traffic in its first year. The arrival of foreign tourists to India increased from 2.38 million in 2002 to 7.7 million in 2014. Yet, the campaign did not show the desired result as by the end of 2007, India’s share in the tourism was a mere 0.52%. China, on the other hand, became the fourth most visited country as of 2015, with 56.9 million international tourists flocking the country. Things are, however, changing. In 2016, the number of Foreign Tourist Arrivals in India stood at 8.80 million, registering a 9.7% annual growth rate over last year. India accounts for 1.18% of International tourist Arrivals in the world and ranks 25th in the world.
The success of any advertising campaign lies in the effectiveness of the brand, in this case, the brand is India itself. Any strategy to promote the country will only be successful if the country provides what the international visitors seek, namely a safe and unique experience without much hassle. Another aspect that the government needs to work on is developing infrastructure to meet the demands of growing tourism. Tourism could contribute significantly to the country’s GDP and create millions of jobs, if the government gets its act together. India has everything that the tourists would love to experience. The government only needs to ensure safety, build decent infrastructure, remove bottlenecks and provide a hassle free experience, so that the tourists carry a good impression of India in their hearts.
Move in the right direction
Though a lot needs to be done on the ground level to make India tourist friendly, the government is moving in the right direction by recognising the limitless potential of tourism in the first place. The Ministry of Tourism has launched the ‘Incredible 2.0 Campaign’ during the year 2017-18 to promote various destinations and areas such as spiritual, medical, and wellness tourism, with a budget of $46 million.
For Incredible India to be credible, the country needs to change the on-ground perception of tourists and improve its infrastructure, only then can it mount a successful advertising campaign.
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