Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has earned a reputation for being Social Media and tech savvy. Anything that the PM has on his agenda, eventually makes it big on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites, apart from mainstream media. It did not quite come as a surprise, then, that NaMo, on his radio address broadcast – Mann Ki Baat – reached out to his listeners and asked them to share their travel experiences in the country over social media, attended by the hashtag #IncredibleIndia. Predictably, the PM soon started to receive countless responses. Twitter responded with gusto and hundreds started to share their travel experiences and breathtaking photos of India with the hashtag. To give these users more incentive for sharing, the PM promised –
“A lot of you are sharing beautiful glimpses of #IncredibleIndia after the #MannKiBaat programme. I am also RT-ing several photos daily”
“Keep sharing photos of #IncredibleIndia. The photos are being compiled in the form of an album on my FB page…”
True to his promise, the Prime Minister has been retweeting pictures shared by users from the farthest reaches of the country. PM Modi currently has about 13.1 million followers on Twitter. The album of Incredible India pictures (about 120 photos) that has been compiled on his Facebook page has found 127,660 shares and 1,167,800 likes by the third week of June 2015. Some very well-known people, such as Mark Zuckerberg (Chairman and CEO of Facebook Inc.), have ‘Liked’ the album. The world is sitting up and taking notice of the beauty and splendour of the country.
Tourism Sector: Focus on Make in India
In September 2014, in an effort to boost the entire economy, PM Modi launched the Make in India campaign. Make in India intends to attract investors from across the globe and develop India into a manufacturing and services hub. The finance ministry drew up a list of 25 core sectors that would be extensively promoted as part of the campaign. Travel and tourism is one of these key sectors that receive special efforts and support.
Over the last year, Modi has approved the liberalising of the travel and tourism sector. Currently, 100 per cent FDI is allowed under the automatic route in tourism and hospitality and in the construction of hotels and other recreational facilities across the country. The government has also promised financial support worth over INR 11 billion to the development of tourism and promotion of this sector. PM Modi’s effort to promote Incredible India and thereby generate interest in tourism and travel in the country is another attempt of the administration to bolster the sector and protect the interests of those employed by it.
Incredible India Campaign
The highly successful Incredible India campaign was initially launched by the government of India in 2002. The aim was to showcase the natural and architectural bounty of the country, the rich colours and the varied culture, the people and the geography and develop India as a premier international tourist destination. The campaign was the brainchild of Amitabh Kant, the then Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Tourism. V Sunil, the Creative Director of Oglivy & Marther was the creative force behind the initiative. Prior to the launch of this initiative, the government of India had not made any concerted effort to bring in more tourists into the country.
The campaign was a resounding success and within a year of launch, tourism in the country saw a 16 per cent increase. By 2009, about seven years after the launch of the campaign, the ministry of tourism decided that the campaign would be extended to promote domestic tourism as well. Supplemented by a number of other awareness initiatives such as the Athithi Devo Bhava (to promote hospitality of international tourists by the locals), the Incredible India campaign has remained synonymous with travel and tourism in the country for about a decade now.
Tourism in India
Tourism has, for a couple of decades, now been one of the key focus industries of India. It is one of the major sources of Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEE) by the country. Both domestic and international tourism has grown phenomenally, more so over the last few years. By 2013, it was estimated that tourism contributed about INR 2,178.1 billion to the national GDP. Over 39.5 million Indians worked as part of the tourism and hospitality industries. According to statistics revealed by the Ministry of Tourism, in the year 2014, about 6.9 million international tourists arrived in the country and this was a year-on-year growth of about seven per cent over previous years.
Since the introduction of the Incredible India campaign and the development of the country started to pick pace, domestic tourism has also picked up. In 2013, there were an estimated 1145 million domestic visits to all the states and Union Territories. In 2013, tourism related foreign exchange earnings grew by about 12 per cent to INR 1058.36 billion. Given the importance of this sector, the employment it generates and the immense untapped potential that travel and tourism hold, it is not surprising that the Indian PM chose to focus on the Incredible India campaign and promote it.
Modi has widely been acknowledged to be one of the best marketing minds to have led the country. He believes, to a great extent, in the latent power of the masses and has been trying to make an earnest attempt to make use of this. Crowdsourcing pictures of India from across the length and breadth of the nation along with personal experiences and showcasing them to the world has been a masterstroke from the man. In the age of mobile cameras, everyone has a story to tell, believes the PM. His new social approach to Incredible India is an attempt to broadcast these stories and promote tourism.
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