India closes tourist offices

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Incredible India as the tourist board sees it. Fewer tourists from France, Italy, Canada, Australia and South Africa if there are no local offices to promote the country?

How do you measure whether a tourist office is profitable enough? And why should you? Isn’t the role of a tourist office to provide information to prospective holidaymakers rather than to sell holidays?

I ask the question because India’s minister for tourism, KJ Alphons, has decided to close down up to half of the tourist offices outside India that it has. His says that the reason is because it sees, “the continuing digitisation of tourism marketing making bricks and mortar offices less essential.

For the last few years, India has pronoted itself as Incredible India.

The office in London remains open but offices in Paris, Amsterdam, Milan, Sydney and Johannesburg along with Toronto and Los Angeles. New York, Beijing, Singapore, Tokyo, Dubai, Frankfurt remain open and a new office will open in Moscow.

But whilst the minister has said that digitization changes have brought about the demise of the offices, , newspaper reports say that an Overseas Marketing Division survey of overseas tourism functions found many of the offices were unprofitable. But how is profitability measured? By the number of potential tourists contacting the office? By the number of stories appearing in the local media and travel magazines and online sites? That latter solution is fraught with problems because many destinations calculate stories appearing based on the advertisement rates. Who pays the ad rates that the publications claim to charge? Few if any.

Whatever the reason is closing these offices wise?

India wants more tourists. Can it effectively encourage tourists to visit when there is no office in a country? You could argue that Ireland doesn’t have offices for many tourist authorities in Dublin with those destinations relying on London offices to service Ireland. But Ireland is three million people. France has a population of 67 million and Italy 61 million, South Africa – 56 million whilst Canada has 37 million and Australia approaches 25 million.  France has a strong connection with India have been a colonial power of part of the country in the eighteenth century so its nationals have a heritage reason to visit India.

Can you afford to forget about a quarter of a billion potential visitors?

Obviously India thinks so. Incredible!


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