Tourism is a major social phenomenon of the modern society with enormous economic implications. Its importance as an instrument for economic development and employment generation, particularly in remote and backward areas, has now been well recognized all over the world. It is also an important activity for cultural interaction, social uplift and environment conservation. Tourism is now one of the world's largest industries and one of its fastest growing economic sectors.
Tourism may have a positive economic impact on the balance of payments, on employment, on gross income and production, but it may also have negative effects, particularly on the environment. Unplanned and uncontrolled tourism growth can result in such a deterioration of the environment that tourist growth can be compromised. . This is especially true with regard to tourism based on the natural environment as well as on historical-cultural heritage.
Thus new word which is being used very often these days is 'sustainable tourism'. Sustainable tourism has three interconnected aspects: environmental, socio-cultural, and economic. Sustainability implies permanence, so sustainable tourism includes optimum use of resources, including biological diversity; minimization of ecological, cultural and social impacts; and maximization of benefits for conservation and local communities. It also refers to the management structures that are needed to achieve this.
The following lists down comprehensive benefits of tourism especially in India:
- Promotes national integration and social equity
- Helps survival of traditional art forms
- Promotes international understanding
- Nearly 8% of employment worldwide is tourism dependent
- The latest study by World Travel and Tourism Council predicts that the highest real growth of tourism demand worldwide at 9.4% will occur in India
- Comparison of the IT and Tourism sector worldwide
Size of Industry
IT: $500 billion Tourism: $4.6 trillion
IT 20 million jobs Tourism 250 million
Understanding the concept of 'Destination' Branding
Destination marketing involves using tourism as a means to an end rather than an end in itself for reasons including: improving the image of an area to attract industrialists; increasing the range of facilities and amenities available to the local community; giving local residents more pride in their local area; providing a rationale and funding for improvements to the local environment; and trying to make the destination politically more acceptable to outsiders. Thus we see that due to the multiple stakeholder nature of a destination, there lies a need for a concerted effort to achieve any goal set forth. This can be explained by the diagram below:
The Dynamic Wheel of Tourism Stakeholders
One of the key problems have been difficulties associated with marrying the objectives of profitability and sustainability, and co-ordinating the activities of the various stakeholders associated with a tourism destination.
Destination marketing should occur not only on the demand side to increase visitor numbers, but also on the supply side to market the destination to intermediaries and to increase the numbers of sellers through investment in accommodation, entertainment and infrastructure, etc.
Bihar had once been the seat of the golden age of the Indian empire but now has shrivelled into one the most backward states of India. Some pockets in Bihar now exhibit one of the lowest living conditions the world over. Bihar post its bifurcation into two smaller states has lost most of its natural resources and the state has failed to catch the IT train which has left it with small scope of riding the 'India Rising' bus. The youth of Bihar are leaving its motherland and doing so the great state is losing its heritage. It is in the interest of not only the people of Bihar but also the nation to protect its cultural heritage.
An approach for Bihar can be based on the 'Appreciation of Frames' study by Schon wherein he demonstrates alternatives to approach in dealing with the housing problem within the social policy. One perspective frames slum areas as diseased, the other frames them as natural communities. When viewed as diseased, the problem becomes one of eradicating the diseases, with the implied solution of urban renewal and regeneration. This involves tearing down slums in order to stop the cycle of decay and relocating the inhabitants of the areas to newly planned and sanitised developments. In contrast, when viewed as natural communities the problem becomes one of dislocation. Natural communities should be preserved in order to maintain the beneficial outcomes of established patterns of interaction and informal networks which characterise them.
The Current State of Bihar
- Negative Brand Equity
- Change in local government
- Renewed faith of residents of the state in the system
- High rise in migration from the state
- High worth of Non residents
- Disparity in documented and actual state of tourist sites
- Lack of any dedicated communication focussed on tourism
- Unorganised and fragmented efforts in maintenance of crafts and culture
- Tourist activity concentrated in pockets (e.g. Buddhist Circuit)
The Requisites of a Successful Tourism Marketing Plan
- Main markets are segmented and Primary Target Groups are identified
- The main competition is identified
- Tourism trends are identified
- A long-term orientation is adopted
- The importance of competitiveness is recognised
- The need for infrastructure improvements is highlighted
- The need for integration with national/regional tourism plans is recognised
- Residents ' attitudes to tourism are considered
- Local cultures, values and lifestyles are considered
- Wealth and job creation and quality of life for residents are primary aims
- The issue of environmental problems is addressed
- The issue of seasonality is addressed
- The benefits of tourism to the destination is quantified
Destination identity and image
- The need to develop brand identity is recognised
- Brand associations are identified
- The need for image development is recognised
- Positioning is discussed
- The need for coordination of industry promotional material is recognised
- Recognition to ensuring the promises made in marketing communications are conveyed to visitors
- New and innovative forms of communication channels are addressed
- The need to improve branding and brand awareness is recognised
- The importance of experiences to tourists as opposed to tangible propositions is recognised
- National government agencies are involved in planning
- Local government agencies were involved in planning
- The area tourist board/area tourist office was involved in planning
- Local residents were involved in planning
- Local businesses were involved in planning
- The need to improve communication between stakeholders (public, private and residents) is
- Leadership is addressed to give greater guidance to stakeholders.
Implementation, monitoring and review
- The timescale for each task is included
- The need for monitoring and review is established
Why communication strategy?
To produce a piece of work that is 'ready-to-use' (implementation). The other aspects of tourism would require long term implementation plans (infrastructure, accommodation etc).
Communications, being our specialization, we thought it would give us an opportunity to refine our theoretical understanding by undertaking a live project or exercise. The research has been further focused on proposing a message strategy for Bihar tourism.
Tourism and hospitality industry in India
India is known worldwide as ancient and mysterious civilization and the second most populated country of the world after China, with a population of one billion. With increasing worldwide tourism and travel for leisure, business and cultural purposes are on the rise, India attracts only 2.4 million visitors annually of the 600 million who travel. India can develop a sound policy to attract tourism and travel to generate jobs at the lowest cost of investment per job in this industry as well as promote sustainable development and cultural heritage, which has been so precious to India. India needs to shed its reluctance of encouraging tourism by affluent Westerners. Tourism, if properly planned and promoted can provide 20+ million jobs in next ten years and foreign exchange in excess of 30 billion dollars. What India needs is a firm policy and commitment to expand tourism as a source of sustainable economic development with value for the tourists and enhancement of India's cultural heritage.
The study is an overall comparison of the trends in the tourism industry in India and the West. The study however does not focus on different areas and their peculiarities.
Branding Buddhism and spiritual tourism in Bodhgaya, Bihar
To study a local region and one which is relevant to our research a study on the Buddhist tourist circuit has been reviewed.
In 2002 the Mahabodhi Temple Complex in Bodhgaya was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. As the alleged site of Buddha's enlightenment it is one of the most revered and sanctified places for Buddhists around the world. This international designation has also set in motion a series of development proposals and heritage policies that seek to rehabilitate and recreate this centre of world Buddhism that provides glimpses of the land of enlightenment as it used to be in the times of the Buddha. Central to these initiatives are plans on behalf of the Bihar state tourism department to promote Brand Buddhism and spiritual tourism through the establishment of an 18 hole golf course and five-star hotels. These development proposals along with the recent UNESCO World Heritage designation have brought to the foreground the multiplicity of stakeholders in competition over the site's spiritual capital today. This paper will explore some of the contradictions and entanglements over Bodhgaya's present and uncertain future. This paper studies the sites and infrastructure in the area of Bodhgaya and the neighbouring regions however tourist activity has been overlooked.
Destination Marketing: Framework
The absence of a structured approach requires the study of destination marketing under theoretical lenses. Here a white paper which throws light on the existing theories which address the area has been studied. The crux of which is:
As a consequence of globalisation, the marketing of places has grown in importance as countries, regions and individual destinations compete with one another to attract investment and visitors. In order to compete effectively, it is essential to identify the critical success factors and ensure these are incorporated into one's strategic planning. An extensive review of the literature covering place and destination marketing indicates that image and identity play an important role in differentiating between objectively similar alternatives. Accordingly, the branding of destinations has become of major importance and is analysed in depth.
Place Branding A Case Study: Denmark
In order to observe a structured approach to Destination Branding the case study of Denmark has been reviewed. It proposes how theoretical models have been applied successfully in real life scenarios.
This paper examines the area of cross-sectoral branding where tourism is combined with other international economic activities in order to construct a common national umbrella brand. From a theoretical perspective the article contributes to the study of cross-sectoral place branding by developing a coherent analytical framework, drawing on recent contributions to the study of Other images and inter-organizational relations. On the basis of this, an empirical case study of the prospects for establishing a cross-sectoral umbrella brand is undertaken, focusing on Danish national tourism and inward investment promotion bodies. Having analysed both the rationales behind and the image profiles of current branding efforts, it is concluded that while disagreement exists at the strategic level with regard to the potentials of umbrella branding, the differences between the current image profiles are of a more manageable character. In the case of Danish tourism and investment promotion, barriers to inter organizational cooperation, in other words, seem to be founded on unfavourable assumptions about potential alliance partners in view of own future aspirations rather than the present branding actions of the actors involved.
- All of the papers above discount the dimension of the impact of tourism on social equity.
- The papers above fail to treat the whole of Bihar as tourism state and do nothing to address the issue of the state govt.'s lack of any public communication be it for the domestic or international market.
- None of the papers above discuss the parameters that affect the success of a campaign in converting a declining tourist destination to a desirable one.
- While there are studies about tourism being an usher of growth and prosperity there is limited research in the field with regard to actual transformations from the Indian subcontinent where conditions and habits differ vastly from the west.
- The use of new technology in media and communications as a tool for boosting results have not been studied
The need for the study:
The above knowledge gaps bring to light many facets of tourism branding and communications in India which remain uncovered. Firstly there is the need to document the case of Branding Campaign from conceptualisation to execution stage. Another point is to specifically understand how a destination which has a negative equity amongst prospective tourists needs to approach its branding strategy. Finally the study aims to proactively include the role of the residents of the area and document their concerns, apprehensions, etc.
What are the influencing factors that divert or hinder the success of a tourism communication that aims to turn around the tourist perceptions of a destination?
- To understand the concept of 'Destination Branding'
- To determine the weight of the parameters that guide a tourism communication's success
- To understand the potential of Bihar in the Tourism sector
- To explore the perceptions of domestic tourists on Bihar
- To explore the perceptions of foreign tourists on Bihar
- Suggest branding initiatives for Bihar tourism
- Suggest communication strategy for Bihar Tourism
Considering the objective of the study it was evident that only multiple information sources would give the depth and breadth of information that would be necessary for proposing a communication strategy. Hence the research would totally of qualitative nature. The following grid gives abroad outline under which the research would be conducted. The idea of the entire exercise is to get perspectives from the various stakeholders in the industry.
- Demographic details of the tourists
- Name, age, Income, Country of origin, Occupation etc.
- Purpose of visit
- People travelling with (Individual / Family / Friends / Charter group)
- Past travel behavior (number and places visited).
- Source of awareness
- Attitudes towards different media and characteristics of information.
- Customer orientation
- Effectiveness and efficiency of various media
- (Primary and secondary)
- Identifying, used and proposed, information contact points
- Mapping their travel to locate innovative media options.
- Understanding and mapping the information seeking process step-wise. ( earlier
- visits also)
- Awareness towards any present or past communication.
- Attitude to communication (past and present).
Data Collection Techniques
- Email questionnaires
- In depth interviews
- Telephonic In depth Interviews
- Tourist Guides (e.g. Rough Guides, Lonely Planet, Incredible India Literature)
- Internet Databases (e.g. www.indiastat.com )
Travel Operators: SOTC Cox and Kings and those operating in Bihar
Tourist officials: Director (Publicity) and Ex tourism Minister (Bihar)
Foreign Tourist 30
Domestic tourists from outside Bihar: 50
Residents of Bihar: 30
Area of Focus:
The Buddhist Circuit (BodhGaya)
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