Govt to hire UK PR firm to get more foreign tourists
NEW DELHI: Amongst foreign tourists visiting India, a substantial percentage is women and they did not report any major problems in India during their visits. Further, the country continues to receive repeat visitors, an analysis by the government shows. Still the country suffers from “negative publicity” abroad.
This is now prompting an innovative step by which the government could hire foreign-based Public Relations (PR) agencies in countries reporting maximum tourist traffic to India to counter negative media coverage regarding safety and security of tourists in India. A top government official told ET that India plans to hire agencies in UK and the US to help substantially increase foreign tourist inflow from these nations to the tune of almost 30% in the coming year.
A decision has already been taken regarding UK, which reports the third highest foreign tourist inflow here. “India is a country of peace-loving and law-abiding citizens. It is a safe destination for all domestic and international tourists, male or female. Like any other civil society, there are aberrations, and a few persons break the law now and then,” says a brief prepared by the government for probable PR agencies for the UK proposal. The brief has been accessed by ET. The UK office of India Tourism also caters to countries of Europe and Israel.
Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) during the period January-June 2017 were 48.85 lakh with a growth of 17.2%, as compared to FTAs of 41.69 in January- June 2016. The top source countries were Bangladesh, USA, UK, Malaysia, Australia and China and Singapore. “The PM is not satisfied with the increase in foreign tourist numbers so far. He feels there is far more potential in this area as India is literally a round-the-year tourist destination and tourism is the fastest growing industry with huge revenue,” a top government official said.
The foreign PR agency will work to position India as a “top of the mind” tourist destination, pitch positive stories to foreign media and counter any negative media coverage through regular liaison with them, organise road shows and do ‘social media management’ like creating content for Facebook and Twitter. The Indian government will sponsor group trips of foreign journalists to India. The PR firm will also interact with bloggers for stories about India, as per a brief.
ET reported on June 6 that PM Narendra Modi had asked the Tourism Secretary to write to all resident ambassadors in Delhi for their views on how India can increase tourist numbers from their respective countries. NITI Aayog had fixed a target for the Tourism Ministry to explore 50 new tourism circuits in India – a total of 63 tourist circuits have been approved in last two years like the Ramayana Circuit, Krishna Circuit, Buddhist Circuit and the Heritage Circuit.