A FICCI-Roots Research study on 'Domestic Tourism in India' released here today at the '3rd Great Domestic Tourism Bazaar', states that the target of 1450 million domestic tourist movements by 2016 could be achieved if the suggested 10-point package of measures is adopted in earnest.
The number of domestic tourist visits to states/UTs recorded a growth of 19.87% from the year 2011 to 2012. The same growth percentage was recorded as 15.6% from 2010 to 2011. In addition, the total number of domestic travellers to states/Union Territories are 1036 million, 865 million and 748 million for the years 2012, 2011 and 2010, respectively.
The key suggestions of FICCI-Roots Research study are sharpening the focus on community involvement, safety & security, training & education, research & market segmentation, up selling, leveraging technology, increased marketing initiatives, policy reforms, infrastructure development and promotion of niche products.
Community Involvement: The community which includes the general populace of a tourist destination has a strong and active role to play in the promotion and development of tourism in their area. A tourist destination needs to have attributes like tolerance, friendliness, understanding etc. amongst its people so that it encourages visitors. The Ministry of Tourism, India has supported such ad campaigns which disseminates the idea of sensitizing the general public as to how tourism is important for the growth of their area socially as well as economically. Such campaigns should be increased not only at the national level through commercials but also at the tourist destination levels through other communication channels.
Safety & Security: Unfortunately, the feeling of safety and security among the general public in India is not very high. There is a lot of apprehension sensed among people when it comes to their feeling safe at a new destination. More measures are required to be taken in this regard both at the centre as well as the state level. The states which can win the trust of its visitors pertaining to the feeling of safety & security can attract high numbers. Certain steps like educating & sensitizing the community (community policing), beefing up security at tourist spots, increasing security personnel at the city/district level of the tourist destinations etc. could be taken towards achieving this.
Training & Education: Tremendous job opportunities are being created by the tourism industry. Directly & indirectly it is playing a crucial role in generating such opportunities. Unfortunately, the employability quotient of the manpower in India is not up to the mark. Investing into development of training schools & institutions will really help the states to channelize its manpower resources. Many tourist destinations lack well qualified guides. These training schools will also increase the employability quotient of the manpower in the respective states and also make destinations more tourist-friendly & supportive.
Research & Market Segmentation: 'Know your customer' is an important concept. A marketer can define & customize products, attract right kind & number of people etc. through understanding its customers and develop its offerings to increase popularity. There is lack of data availability when it comes to domestic tourist arrivals in various states. Some of the states have taken up research assignments to understand the visitor's profile but still a considerable amount of insights can be gained if proper & systematic gathering of data is conducted. Important aspects to understand the tourists could be their demographic profile (age, place, education, occupation), Socio-Economic profiling, reasons of travelling etc. Such information will really contribute towards customizing product offerings at the level of states.
Up Selling: It is important to club tourism products offered by various states so that the tourists elongate their stay and even visitors can be converted into tourists. For instance, Andhra Pradesh is aggressively advertising and communicating with the business visitors directly & indirectly (through channel partners like tour operators, associations etc.) so that they have an overnight stay at Hyderabad. Much better if their families accompany them. Through offering other products (destinations) Hyderabad intends to convert the business visitor into a tourist through elongating their stay.
Leveraging Technology: Technology is governing most of the workplaces in the urban landscape of this country. It is also present in the tourism industry but it can be further utilized for making this country more tourist-friendly. For instance, Maharashtra tourism division is making its website supportive to international languages. It is believed that the state has plans to support all Indian languages as well. With eguides and virtual tours as its website offerings, we feel it can really stimulate a potential tourist. In addition, many states are installing electronic information kiosks at its tourist destinations for the purpose of providing guidance to tourists. More such steps should be taken towards leveraging technology at different touch points.
Increased Marketing Initiatives: We have seen increased budget allocated to state tourism boards for marketing & promotion, more aggressive advertising campaigns, more fairs & festivals etc., nevertheless, we still feel there is need for more. There is a need to market lesser-known destinations so that the tourist's arrival figures are not very skewed. These initiatives can also be taken at tourist destination levels, wherein, efficient communication should be done to promote areas falling in the vicinity of that particular destination.
Policy Reforms: Many state governments have signed MoUs with other states to promote domestic tourism. These understandings include tax benefits, rebates, low cost of travelling etc. And such agreements have paid well. It is proposed that such measures should be scaled up at the state level to attract tourists from neighboring states.
Infrastructure Development: Every fiscal year the infrastructure development projects are being commissioned by the centre as well as the state government. Oceanariums, budgeted accommodation, circuit routes, roads & highways etc. are being planned and developed. Infrastructure development is vital for this industry and there is need to invest more in the same.
Promotion of Niche Products: Like lesser known destinations, niche products should also be marketed actively. These products can be clubbed with bigger products and offered. There is a strong chance that the number of tourists inclined towards such niche products may be less, nevertheless, when clubbed with other offerings it can be developed well.