Skift Take

As India's role in the global travel industry continues to grow enormously, here's a look at how Indian authorities market tourism.

India’s clout in travel is booming, especially as the country’s growing middle class is poised to play a major role in the industry’s growth. India is also the world’s largest emerging outbound tourism market.

But India has been prioritizing domestic tourism, having recently cut its overseas promotion budget by 97%. Of the 1.7 billion trips Indians took in 2022, 99% were domestic.

As India’s travel and tourism industry is projected to generate nearly $24 billion of revenue in 2024, how is India marketing tourism?

We asked our intelligence chatbot Ask Skift the question. Ask Skift used information appearing in our past news coverage and research, and we also conducted additional reporting on the matter.

What Ask Skift Said:

India has been actively marketing its tourism through various strategies. According to articles from Skift published in May 2024:

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What Else You Need to Know:

India’s Union Budget for the 2024-2025 fiscal year included a big increase in funding, with Skift reporting that domestic tourism was the primary focus for Indian authorities.

Himmat Anand, founder of A Dog’s Story, one the first chain of pet-friendly boutique hotels in India, said Indian authorities would emphasize religious tourism, which should give domestic tourism a boost.

But Rajeev Kohli, joint managing director of Creative Travel India, believes Indian officials aren’t consciously marketing religious tourism.

“The government has had a focus on religious sites as a part of large politics, but that is a bit different from marketing them as tourist places. The discourse is a bit convoluted,” Kohli said. “Pilgrimage tourism has always been significantly large … The major change has been the newfound media interest in the story.”

Indian authorities have emphasized a growing emphasis on sustainable tourism. The Ministry of Tourism formed the National Strategy for Sustainable Tourism in 2022 as part of the industry’s strategy to bring sustainability into the mainstream. The ministry had launched the previous year the Travel for LiFe campaign to encourage responsible tourism.

In addition, the Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board runs a Responsible Tourism Mission, which the agency’s Managing Director Sheo Shekhar Shukla said promotes organic farming and locally sourced cuisine. Visitors to the state have the opportunity to participate in activities such as pottery, bamboo craft and cooking.

Indian officials are also promoting some of the country’s less visited destinations, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi notably promoting his January trip to Lakshadweep on social media. Google searches for the archipelago surged to an all-time high shortly after Modi’s visit. Online travel company MakeMyTrip reported a 3,400% increase in searches for Lakshadweep after the prime minister’s trip.

However, India’s popular attractions aren’t poised to see the same level of promotion overseas. While Shukla said the Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board would participate in events such as ITB Berlin and the World Travel Market in London, the amount the Union Budget set aside for overseas promotion during the 2024-2025 fiscal year decreased substantially — a 97% reduction to roughly $361,000 (30 million rupees).

In addition, the Indian government has closed several India Tourism offices worldwide.

“(Thirty million Indian rupees) for overseas tourism promotion is a joke, and make no mistake, the joke’s on us,” said Himanshu Dwivedi, director of Monkfoot Travels.

Kohli cites a lack of political interest as the reason why the country hasn’t marketed itself heavily overseas.

“I hope the new government will change that,” Kohli said. “We need political leadership that cares about doing their job. We need to allow our bureaucrats and policymakers some freedom to run their ministries and remove the level of political interference we currently have.”

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Tags: ask skift, india, india travel, tourism marketing

Photo credit: The Taj Mahal is one of India's most famous landmarks. cab4outstation / PxHere

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