INDIA'S Ministry of Tourism is convening a high-level meeting and rolling out an international PR campaign to dispel the country's negative image as a female-traveller-unfriendly destination and restore confidence among foreign tourists.
First in this two-prong strategy is a meeting that will gather the country's tourism ministers and private sector delegates to discuss measures to improve the safety of foreign tourists. According to a ministry source, the meeting will take place within the next two months.
The ministry is joining hands with public-private partnership body, Experience India Society, to revamp India’s international image through a PR campaign that will be launched in the UK, Germany, Japan and the US for starters.
Speaking at a meeting with the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) last week, tourism minister Shripad Yesso Naik said: “I am aware that the tourism industry in India is concerned about the safety and security of tourists, especially women. It is one of our topmost priorities to address this concern. We will soon work out a PR strategy to create a positive image of the country.”
The campaign blueprint will be finalised today and TTG Asia e-Daily understands that it will include fam trips for media and single female travellers, and advertising, among others.
However, Rajan Sehgal, managing director, Arrivals Air Services, felt more remains to be done. “A mere PR plan won’t help the cause. We need to have all hotels having women-only floors, and to sensitise our taxi drivers and tour guides towards respecting women travellers. Apart from male security personnel, we also need female security personnel so that female travellers feel comfortable.”
Sarab Jit Singh, senior vice president, IATO, emphasised the importance of timing, saying: “Half-baked and half-hearted approaches will not yield any result…It is important that the PR plan is approved on time and that there are no delays.”