'Atithi Devo Bhavah': Indian Tourism Ministry's Social Awareness Program to Boost Tourism

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Case Details:

Case Code : MKTG180
Case Length : 16 Pages
Period : 2005-2007
Pub Date : 2007
Teaching Note : Available
Organization : Indian Tourism
Industry : Tourism/ public sector
Countries : India

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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"The perception of what tourism means to a country has to undergo a sea change if India has to move from its current status of 3.3 million foreign tourists arrivals in 2004 to the top10 tourist destinations in the world. People have to be sensitive and aware of the role of tourism; otherwise we will kill the goose that lays the golden egg. When tourism happens, prosperity increases."1

- Renuka Chowdhury, Minister for Tourism, India, in January 2005.

"The Atithi Devo Bhavah campaign is a social awareness campaign, which looks at bringing an attitudinal change in the minds of people with respect to the way they interact with tourists."2

- Leena Nandan, Director at the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, in February 2006.

"Although the catchline of the Tourism Ministry is atithi devo bhavah ("the guest is god" in Sanskrit), the treatment of foreign tourists has been rather ungodly... The threat that touts pose to India's tourism seems far greater than that from terrorism."3

- Sudha Ramachandran, writer/researcher in Asia Times Online, in January 2007.

An Image Makeover to Attract Tourists

According to figures released by the Ministry of Tourism (MoT), Government of India (GoI), in April 2007, around 1.42 million international tourists visited India in the first quarter of 2007 (Q1 2007). This was 14.4 percent higher than in the corresponding period in 2006. The foreign exchange earned in Q1 2007 was Rs.910.24 million4, representing growth of 16.8 percent over Q1 2006. These strong growth figures raised hopes of another good year for the tourism industry in India. The figures came on top of growth of 13.3 percent in 2006 when around 4.43 million tourists had visited India. Experts said the increased tourist numbers could be partially attributed to innovative programs by the MoT, of which Atithi Devo Bhavah was one.

In 2002, the MoT had initiated an integrated marketing effort called as the 'Incredible India' campaign in an attempt to draw more tourists to India. This campaign aimed to project India as an attractive tourist destination by promoting some of the unique aspects of India's history and culture like yoga, spirituality, etc. By 2004, there was a surge in the tourist inflow into the country.

But India was still behind other destinations in terms of its tourist infrastructure, and badly needed to initiate capacity building initiatives to realize its full tourism potential. Despite the diversity and huge tourism potential of the country, India attracted far fewer tourists than much smaller countries like France and Singapore.

Apart from problems such as poor connectivity, high taxes, visa problems, unsanitary conditions, and the shortage of affordable, good quality accommodation, service industry experts felt that the treatment meted out to tourists by the various stakeholders of the tourism industry left them with a less than enjoyable experience overall.

'Atithi Devo Bhavah': Indian Tourism Ministry's Social Awareness Program to Boost Tourism - Next Page>>

1] Archana RD, "Atithi Devo Bhava, Says Tourism Minister," www.domain-b.com, January 28, 2005.

2] "'Guest is God' is New Motto to Boost Tourism in India," www.asia.news.yahoo.com, February 17, 2006.

3] Sudha Ramachandran, "Tourists See the Good Side of India," www.atimes.com, January 24, 2007.

4] As of May 25, 2007, US$1 was approximately equal to Rs.40.618.


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