2016 was a great year for India tourism, reveals Tourism India

Indian Tourism has witnessed a double digit growth in Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in 2016, as per Tourism, India. Its a phenomenal growth compared to global tourism growth rate; here are some of the initiatives that have been taken (and planned) by Tourism India:

  • 161 countries can now avail of e-Visas. Plans for better Film Visa norms to give a big boost to India tourism.
  • Global news channels BBC, Discovery, TMC, NGC, CNN and CNBC amongst others are running Incredible India campaign in countries around the world.
  • Tourism films are being made for each state from the North East. Films are being made on various themes like MICE, medical, adventure and wildlife.
  • Indian Heritage Trail Campaign showcasing several heritage monuments in India.
  • Plans to launch trains having glass coaches in Kashmir on Banihal-Baramulla circuit and on Visakhapatnam to Araku Valley route in Andhra Pradesh
  • There’s a roadmap for cruise tourism.
  • Focus on promotion of adventure tourism in India.
  • Tourism Investor Summit will now be an annual feature

Has India failed to capitalize on Bollywood, one of its biggest tourist icons?

Dubai (and not Mumbai) has a Bollywood theme park. In fact, India doesn’t have any Bollywood theme park (of international standards). That probably sums up how India, the land of Bollywood, has failed to capitalize on Bollywood, one of its biggest tourist icons.

Tourism departments the world over know how to market their strengths – be it Switzerland selling its cheese as vegetarian to Indians, Spain & France boasting about the fact that a Bollywood film was shot entirely in their country, and so on. They keep on luring the young Indian traveler with attractive digital campaigns.

But surprisingly, India has no clear cut map on how to capitalize on Bollywood to attract foreign tourists to India. this despite, the tremendous potential it beholds.

India has 32 world heritage sites, a 7,517 km long coastline, but have just 5 per cent of the world tourism pie.

Bollywood is responsible for driving hordes of Indian tourists to foreign countries (where Bollywood movies were shot). Even most states in India hire Bollywood celebrities to act as their tourism ambassadors (they know the power of Bollywood).

So how should India get the foreign tourists to travel to destinations beyond Rajasthan, Kerala and Goa?

Here’s what needs to be done.

  • India needs a co-ordinated public-private strategic plan in place to promote India as a great tourist destination.
  • Indian needs to spend on marketing (Some Bollywood films spend up to 50% of their budget on marketing to capture eyeballs)
  • India needs to continue its visa reforms. There have been improvements in recent years, but more needs to be done.
  • Lastly, India needs to stay focused on improving infrastructure, and a faster rate. Mumbai, home to Bollywood, has poor infrastructure; there are plans for a second airport, but even that seem to have come a bit too late (its still going to take a few years to be operational).