According to Delhi Tourism Minister, the forthcoming state budget will mark the beginning of a massive makeover process for Delhi tourism. While a high-octane publicity drive is slated to be initiated in August, a global scale city specific festival (like Dubai or Singapore festival) will be held later this year.
For those eyeing a facelift of Delhi tourism, some positive, big-ticket developments may just be round the corner. According to Delhi Tourism Minister Kapil Mishra, the state government (in the second year of its second inning) is now ready with a slew of new initiatives which will give a major push to tourism in Delhi. Many observers are of the view that tourism efforts have been somewhat dormant for quite sometime.
“I can assure you that the next financial year is going to be a turning point for tourism in Delhi,” Mishra said at a recently held seminar organised by the Delhi cell of the apex chamber CII in the national capital.
While untapped potential is a general tagline which is used to define Indian tourism by several observers, in Delhi’s case the sense of disappointment seems to be more pronounced. The National Capital of India is a heritage hub in its own rights, is a vibrant business and commercial center, has rich cultural assets and is the most formidable international gateway for arrivals into the country (as much as 45 percent of the total arrivals). However, all these favourable factors are not translating into delivering the right numbers. As per all India statistics released by the Ministry of Tourism for year 2014, while Delhi does not figure in the top ten domestic tourism states list, it occupies fourth rank in foreign tourist arrivals. Analysts point at a long litany of gaps ranging from high taxation provision in accommodation and tourism services to lack of a connect between its myriads and diverse assets to the lack of plan to hardsell them holistically and also the lack of preparation to tap new segments like MICE.
“We are missing out on events in a major way. We also need to ensure that the city has a sound base of mid-segment accommodation,” pointed out K B Kachru, Chairman (South Asia), Carlson Rezidor Hotels.
“The city does not even have a catchy tagline to define its tourism, nor does it have any brand ambassador – a tool which many states in the country have used so successfully. These are the basics now to promote your tourism,” rued Madhav Shriram, Director, DCM Shriram Industries. The stakeholders in Delhi have this common grudge that the city ends up being a transit point for tourists (particularly international) to Jaipur and Agra markets rather than retaining them for a longer period and do business by serving them. According to a report, tourists using Delhi as gateway to visit Jaipur and Agra do not spend more than one night in the national capital.
But according to Kapil Mishra, the AAP government is committed to propel tourism in Delhi in a new avatar and it will get increasingly pronounced in the coming months. “Delhi has all the attributes to be a tourism powerhouse. What it lacks is in management and publicity. We are kick-starting an aggressive brand campaigning this August for which a separate allocation will be made in the forthcoming state government budget (to be announced around this month end). The campaign will have a brand tagline and also a noted brand ambassador. This will be a high-octane publicity drive,” Mishra said.
Delhi government’s plans to infuse a fresh lease of life in Delhi tourism particularly on the front of creating the right kind of buzz globally also includes hosting a prolonged city specific festival, much on the lines of Dubai festival (read box piece: Delhi festival planned in November, to be developed as a global show). Furthermore, to beef up the MICE preparedness, the state government has decided to build two new venues.
“Delhi has the capability to emerge as a major global destination for events but lack of hosting facilities is a serious issue. An event like Zubin Mehta concert does not deserve to be staged in Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. We are giving finishing touches to a plan to build two world class event centers in the city,” Delhi tourism minister informed the gathering. He further stressed that the AAP government has simplified the procedure to host events in the city (by facilitating single window clearance as against permission from multiple agencies) and the results have been quite encouraging.
“We have clearly seen more events happening in the city now than what it used to be about a year back. We are committed to push this segment in a major way going ahead,” he said.
Going by Mishra’s pronouncements, Delhi government’s 2016-17 budget would make AAP government intentions clear that tourism is a top priority for the state government. “Unlike the recently announced union budget, you will not find ‘t’ word missing in the state government budget,” he said taking a dig at the center. He further specified that while the forthcoming state budget will not only make provisions for the tourism department’s proposed initiatives, it will also contain some fiscal relief. “What I can tell you today is that our budget will definitely announce a rationalisation in luxury taxes imposed on hotels. The local hotel industry has been asking for it for quite sometime and we see merit in their demand,” he underlined.