By Gour Kanjilal
In tourism the perception is the reality". It is the image is what is perceived by those who use or are likely to use your brand and services. It can make you standout from others who are doing or saying similar things in a crowded market place. Branding is thus a process that puts together and sustains complex mixtures of attributes and values, many of which are intangible. The objective of branding India was to produce unique and attractive offerings that cover both national and emotional need of the tourists.
In tourism factors such as cost of travel, convenience and quality of facilities are important; however, the strongest motivation is provided by the image. It is "image" which places a destination on the consumers "Shopping lists" and creates an emotional appeal which inturn enhances the destinations chances of being chosen over others. How a destinations or commercial tourism organization promote its products or services is a key factor in the realization of its objectives. In an activity like tourism where the customers is located remote from the place he/she is intending to visit or from the tourism products and services he/she is thinking to buy, tourism marketing thus becomes the central component of tourism. Creating the proper image becomes an integral part of marketing. Strong branding represents one of the best defence against adverse economic & market conditions. (Source Ministry of Tourism Report). The divergence between consumer's perception of brands and these experience
matters much in the success of a brand.
India Tourism Efforts
In 2002 when India thought of creating a brand equity which would increase its brand recognition and brand power, it found it was not a easy job as competitors like Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore had established strong brand identity. These had proved very stimulating and economically beneficial. All the more they already included some of unique experience and thus forced India to lookout for something totally innovative and really challenging. Amazing Thailand :attracted 10 million tourists, Malaysia truly Asia attracted over 8.5 million tourists in 2002 and Live it up Singapore almost 7 million tourists whereas only India 's tourist arrivals remained to 2.5 million. Closer home God's own country! Kerala emerged as one of the fastest destinations in Asia . Indian Tourism image remained unfocussed & unclear. As a destination India had difficulties in competing with images from competing countries and its advertising, promotion & PR had failed to correct the negative perception as a
tourist destination. Its was just generic and not campaign very effective because visibility was very limited.
The Emergent Issues
The problem was genuine. To workout a strong branding needed lot of inputs which to cover well defined and unique brand personality country as whole, selection of the correct positioning strategies, themed product development, consistent and appropriate advertising & promotion careful brand guardianship and look into destinations different characteristics like it is multifaceted product, involves many stake holders with differing objectives & requirements is a mental concept for potential tourist, is subject the influence of current events, natural calamities, terrorism, health scenes and is evaluated subjectively in respect of its value for money (based on reality compared with expectations and differs in size, physical attractions, infrastructure, benefits offered to visitors and degree of dependence on tourism - infact no tourism destination can be treated the same and India in this respect holds unique position due to its multiplicity of destination products.
The brand equity needed to be built on a thorough understanding of consumer needs. A survey commissioned by the Malaysian Tourism Promotion Broad revealed that tourist viewed Singapore as clean, modern & safe, China's dominant image and attraction was "culture" Malaysia was seen as multi cultural and Thailand had a brand image of exotic, fun & friendly people, while others could claim breath taking locals, the mysticism of the east the draw of the civilization, the call of the wild, India is all that & much more. The more part include
It is a journey of mind & soul
It is a journey of five senses
It is a journey of self discovery
It is a journey of self fulfillment
What is so unique about India? That fact it offered a myriad of experiences - on enlightened holiday that enabled the tourist to go back as a better human being. One comes back richer - with knowledge experience and enlightened mind as greater human being i.e. Self fulfillment.
The facts that in its sheer size, diversity and experience it was larger than 21 country of western?. Europe put together with 25874 Km to spare. Govt. was putting all its thinking to develop India into a global brand with world wide brand recognition and strong brand equity. With lot of thinking and deliberation came the "Incredible India" branding process which focused to create a unique identity for India as a tourism destination & differentiate it from competitors.