Tourism Marketing: With Emphasis On North East India
Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 4358
, Published on 18 December 2011
The recent economic sinusoidal swings notwithstanding, globally, Tourism has been a sector that has seen a substantial growth in the recent years. The zeal to capture this booming market has even lead to the segmentation of the industry with some countries specializing in health tourism like India, some in Eco tourism like Costa Rica and Nepal and still others in rural tourism.
India, regarded as the Diversity capital, with its millennial old history and cultural richness is actually at the pedestal to harness this tourism growth. Slowly but finally the government seems to have realized this and has made concrete efforts to seal the loopholes plaguing the industry. The “Incredible India” campaign; The National Tourism Policy of 2002; Mega Tourism Projects involving both the central and state government with the Ministry of Railways, Civil Aviation, Road and Transport and Urban Development and the Tourism Department to bring about convergence and synergy in solving the issues; the Visa on Arrival policy are some of the few steps that has been taken in this regard.
So where does North East India fit in all these..?
Located in the lap of the easternmost Himalayan range, the pristine beauty of North East India has remained unexplored for a long time. Be it for the decades of Militancy, the lack of Infrastructure development, the limited connectivity with the rest of the country or a culture and tradition that is distinct from the rest of India. However recent truce between the government and various militant groups and the “Look East” policy of the government has made the scenario a lot more optimistic now. And it is this opportunity that the North East should capitalize on. Below are some of the strategies that can be positioned amongst various segments of the tourist populace.
1) The Thrill of the unexplored :For the adventurist
Tough the tourism industry is based on “There is a lot more to see”, thanks to record tourism and the severe exploration done by the television channels, most regions have been explored or we are aware of the famous places be it the Swiss Alps, the Pyramids or the Taj Mahal. The thrill of exploring something unknown is not there always. The scenario is not the same in case of North East. An Advertisement like “The last unexplored territory on Earth” would be perfect for attracting tourist. Be it the mountain range of Tawang or the seven falls in Cherrapunjee or the rafting in the Bhramaputra or the largest river island in the world, Majuli; hardly has any documentary or exploration been for these places. Such a region is paradise for the adventurist venturing into the unknown and efforts needs to be made to market the same.
2) Richness of flora and fauna: For the eco tourist
Rapid industrialization and deforestation has taken out the greenery shine from most part of our congested country. The north east with its abode of hills and mountains is a noble succor for those who want to escape from the daily hustle bustle. Arunachal Pradesh (state with lowest population density in the country) and states like Meghalaya and Manipur abound with a very rich variety of unexplored plants and trees engulfing ranges of hills and mountains. Arunachal Pradesh alone has as many as 500 pieces of medicinal plants.
Apart from this there are certain birds and animals that are found only in NE India like the one horned rhinoceros, Hoolock - the only tailless ape in India, Assamese Macaque, the Himalayan black deer, the red panda, the white winged duck . A break from the mundane city life and journey into the pristine jungles of North East is most would aspire for.
3) A different India: For the explorer
From the land of the Ahoms to the land of the Rising Sun, the region encompasses 7 states and comprise of a multitude of languages and dialects across different cultures and customs. Away from the hinterland India the cultures and traditions are unique to this region itself, a fact also evident in the ways and life of the local inhabitants.
4) Value for money: For the economic traveler
North east as a whole has not seen much of Industrial development. The lifestyle is majorly rural in most regions and the per capita income is also low. Neither are there any bombastic salaries as existing in the metros nor is there any extraordinary demand for real estate, consumer goods etc. This being the fact the cost of living is low in most places. The economic traveler can enjoy North East to a much greater extent than any other region without having to scratch deep inside the pocket. For an economic package of around Rs 5000, a person can enjoy a 4N/5D travel and stay across the major tourist places (as per a travel portal). Compare this with an average of around Rs 800 per day in average hotels across rest of India.
5) Gateway to the Eastern Asia: For the Business Traveler
Globalization as an era has forced people to seek out for business opportunities across countries to be in competition. The North East India surrounded by China, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan can act as the nerve centre for trade and commerce with these countries. The credence for this has been lately recognized by the Government of India and a huge thrust has been given for Infrastructure development in the region. Also a proposal has been considered amongst these nations for road and railway connections to create more trade opportunities. The woolen clothes and spices from Bhutan or the jute for Bangladesh or the gems and jewelry and food items from Myanmar have a great scope in India. For a trader looking for long term trade growth and benefits the North East India is the next big place.
In any business Advertising and Marketing strategies and hold good as long as the product is able to hold good on the promises. There is no doubt on the tourism potential of Northeast India but to tap that potential a huge amount of background work needs to be done. Some of the points are outlined below.
1) Awareness amongst the local population about respect for the foreigners.
2) The media plays an important role in portraying the right image of a region. In case of North East focus has been more on the terrorism rather than its untapped potential of its natural beauty.
3) Proper verification and recognition of the tour operators
4) The tour operators may be provided incentives if they are able to publicize the tourist potential of North East and bring forward attractive packages to attract the tourist.
5) Incentives and reduction in tariffs for hotels situated in remote locations
6) Churning out more professional courses on tourism
7) Public-Private-Partnership in regions where Government Investment is not enough like building of roads, bridges, lodges
8) Attempt has to be made to remove the entry restrictions and barriers that are prevalent in interstate transportation in certain states like Arunachal Pradesh.
9) Awards and accolades for the best service
To conclude with, the government should realize the urgency and importance of promoting tourism in Northeast. The intermingling of the tourist, specially the internal tourist, with the local populace will go a long way in reducing the perennial complaints of isolation raised by the people. This will also help in removing the perturbing perceptions that people have on the region and one day they will themselves venture out to explore and find out why Meghalaya is called “Abode of Clouds” or Manipur is called “The Jewel of India”.
This article has been authored by Himangshu Das from NITIE, Mumbai.
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