India’s image needs a facelift

The first time I saw the Incredible India campaign, I was living abroad and was struck by the visual invitation that it was. It filled me with pride and a renewed appreciation for the Tourism Ministry. Unfortunately, as Dilip Cherian, the image guru succinctly puts it, “It was the last good idea they had”. I belong to a state, Uttarakhand, where tourism is a major revenue generator for local people; this is a moment of crisis as occupancy levels and tourism has dropped post the floods. The state government’s response has been an insipid advertisement with an image of Naini lake – declaring the state “safe”. It’s a subtle suggestion, repositioning Kumaon when most of the devastation has happened in the Garhwal hills. However it is still a timely if inadequate measure for a region that is sustained by its visitors.

I chat with the director Anurag Basu, about his turn as Tourism Ambassador for Chhattisgarh. From the steel town of Bhilai, Dada has been an inveterate traveller from his childhood days, joining his father on long trips across the state. The overwhelming story about the Naxalite presence has warded off potential tourists; however as he explains, Chhattisgarh isn’t only about its natural beauty or cultural richness, it also offers a special cache of niche travel experiences like human migration. It’s a canny tool that some states have adopted, roping in popular faces to play mascot; Mr Bachchan for Gujarat is another example of this.

Full report here India Today 


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