By Dian Hasan | December 13, 2009
The World Trade Organization ranks Tourism as the largest service sector industry. Often misquoted as the largest industry, which it’s not, as that spot belongs to Trade in fossil fuels (read: oil & gas)! It is however, without a doubt, probably an industry with the broadest multiplier effect. Tourism is a peculiar industry indeed. Desired by many countries, done right only by a some. One of the few industries where both developed and developing countries can compete on equal footing. And while on the surface it seems that every country can pursue it with relative ease – selling the beauty of one’s land & culture is – after all – the driving force. And how it’s done correctly involves a complex web of aligning strategies of a host of other industries.
However, tourism CANNOT be developed in a silo, its development lies on the backbone of relies on infrastructure development: from physical, legal, HRD, logistics, down to an in-depth analysis of each country’s own cultural identity. This constitutes the DNA make-up of a Country’s BRAND. And Tourism is merely an extension of how external visitors experience it.
An interesting angle to see how countries are faring is through their Destination Marketing campaigns, inseparable from Country Branding really! As each country’s main competitive edge lies in its niqueness, and no two countries are alike. Hence, every country’s tourism campaign should be distinctively different. But is it really? Sometimes it’s easier said than done.
It’s what separates destinations as disparate as Australia, Belgium and China, as well as differentiate countries that are close neighbors and promote almost identical offerings, such as Mexico’s Yucatán & Chiapas Provinces, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, who all share a common Mayan heritage. It’s what separates the different countries in The Caribbean that have similar offerings of Sun, Sand and Sunsets, so Jamaica would have a separate identity from say Anguilla, Aruba, St. Barth, St. Martin, Dominican Republic, and Turks & Caicos.
In the end, a successful tourism campaign should effectively promote 3 main areas that are inseparable and inter-related:
1. Tourism, 2. Trade, and 3. Investment.
India’s tourism campaign entitled“Incredible India” has become one of the most successful tourism ad campaigns of late. The tagline captures all the qualities that makes India unique. It rests on the strength of 1. Culture (People with their Customs & Traditions), 2. Famous Landmarks (Taj Mahal), and 3. Landscapes (Skiing in the Himalayas, Boating in the traditional Kettuvallam wooden boats in Kerala, South India).
As one of the world’s oldest civilizations, that gave the world things as diverse as Yoga, Meditation, Pink Palaces, Curry, Bollywood, The Jungle Book, Sari, Painted Elephant Parades and Ayurveda, it is fitting to portray the rich tapestry that is India. And the stunning pictures exemplify India’s diversity beautifully.
And the corporate world is also taking notice of how colorful India can be as a TVC background. Here’s Visa Cards International’s campaign, featuring Hollywood heavyweight Richard Gere.
An angle to get in touch with your inner side. Notice the voice over saying: “Embark on a journey to self discovery. Indulge your mind, body and soul. Incredible India!”
Here’s how India’s Tourism campaign looked like before Incredible India, entitled “Seven Wonders of India: