Communications Strategy for Bihar Tourism
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Published: Mon, 19 Feb 2018
Places must decide on not only how many tourists they want and how to balance tourism with other industries or strategies but also what kind of tourists they want. The choices will be constrained, of course, by the place’s climate, natural topography and resources, history, culture and facilities. Like any other business, tourist marketers must know the actual and potential customers, their needs and wants, determine which target markets to serve, and decide on appropriate products, services, and programs to serve these markets. Once they have defined a target group they must strategically devise a communication mechanism which attracts that tourist in the most cost effective manner.
This study aims to look at Bihar as a tourism destination, understand its potential in light of its history, both cultural and political along with the way it is perceived by the world outside, especially the traveler. It aims to synchronize the objective of the state with regard to increasing tourist inflow and that of the demands of the contemporary traveler both domestic and foreign.
In that view research has been carried out to understand the factors that affect tourism growth on the demand and supply side. And with the help of that analysis recommendations for a communication strategy have been given.
Tourism is a major social phenomenon of the modern society with enormous economic implications. Its importance as an instrument for economic development and employment generation, particularly in remote and backward areas, has now been well recognized all over the world. It is also an important activity for cultural interaction, social uplift and environment conservation. Tourism is now one of the world’s largest industries and one of its fastest growing economic sectors.
Tourism may have a positive economic impact on the balance of payments, on employment, on gross income and production, but it may also have negative effects, particularly on the environment. Unplanned and uncontrolled tourism growth can result in such a deterioration of the environment that tourist growth can be compromised. . This is especially true with regard to tourism based on the natural environment as well as on historical-cultural heritage.
Thus new word which is being used very often these days is ‘sustainable tourism’. Sustainable tourism has three interconnected aspects: environmental, socio-cultural, and economic. Sustainability implies permanence, so sustainable tourism includes optimum use of resources, including biological diversity; minimization of ecological, cultural and social impacts; and maximization of benefits for conservation and local communities. It also refers to the management structures that are needed to achieve this.
The following lists down comprehensive benefits of tourism especially in India:
* Promotes national integration and social equity
* Helps survival of traditional art forms
* Promotes international understanding
* Nearly 8% of employment worldwide is tourism dependent
* The latest study by World Travel and Tourism Council predicts that the highest real growth of tourism demand worldwide at 9.4% will occur in India
* Comparison of the IT and Tourism sector worldwide
o Size of Industry
§ IT: $500 billion Tourism: $4.6 trillion
o Jobs generated
§ IT 20 million jobs Tourism 250 million
Tourism and hospitality industry in India
India is known worldwide as ancient and mysterious civilization and the second most populated country of the world after China, with a population of one billion. With increasing worldwide tourism and travel for leisure, business and cultural purposes are on the rise, India attracts only 2.4 million visitors annually of the 600 million who travel. India can develop a sound policy to attract tourism and travel to generate jobs at the lowest cost of investment per job in this industry as well as promote sustainable development and cultural heritage, which has been so precious to India. India needs to shed its reluctance of encouraging tourism by affluent Westerners. Tourism, if properly planned and promoted can provide 20+ million jobs in next ten years and foreign exchange in excess of 30 billion dollars. What India needs is a firm policy and commitment to expand tourism as a source of sustainable economic development with value for the tourists and enhancement of India’s cultural heritage. (P, 2005)
Understanding the concept of ‘Destination’ Branding
Destination marketing involves using tourism as a means to an end rather than an end in itself for reasons including: improving the image of an area to attract industrialists; increasing the range of facilities and amenities available to the local community; giving local residents more pride in their local area; providing a rationale and funding for improvements to the local environment; and trying to make the destination politically more acceptable to outsiders. Thus we see that due to the multiple stakeholder nature of a destination, there lies a need for a concerted effort to achieve any goal set forth. This can be explained by the diagram below:
The Dynamic Wheel of Tourism Stakeholders
One of the key problems have been difficulties associated with marrying the objectives of profitability and sustainability, and co-ordinating the activities of the various stakeholders associated with a tourism destination.
Destination marketing should occur not only on the demand side to increase visitor numbers, but also on the supply side to market the destination to intermediaries and to increase the numbers of sellers through investment in accommodation, entertainment and infrastructure, etc.
The Requisites of a Successful Tourism Marketing Plan
o The main competition is identified
o Tourism trends are identified
o A long-term orientation is adopted
o The importance of competitiveness is recognized
o The need for infrastructure improvements is highlighted
o The need for integration with national/regional tourism plans is recognised
o Residents ‘ attitudes to tourism are considered
o Local cultures, values and lifestyles are considered
o Wealth and job creation and quality of life for residents are primary aims
o The issue of environmental problems is addressed
o The issue of seasonality is addressed
o The benefits of tourism to the destination is quantified (Cameron, 2008)
* Destination identity and image
o The need to develop brand identity is recognised
o Brand associations are identified
o The need for image development is recognised
o Positioning is discussed
o The need for coordination of industry promotional material is recognised
o Recognition to ensuring the promises made in marketing communications are conveyed to visitors
o New and innovative forms of communication channels are addressed
o The need to improve branding and brand awareness is recognised
o The importance of experiences to tourists as opposed to tangible propositions is recognised
* Stakeholder involvement
o National government agencies are involved in planning
o Local government agencies were involved in planning
o The area tourist board/area tourist office was involved in planning
o Local residents were involved in planning
o Local businesses were involved in planning
o The need to improve communication between stakeholders (public, private and residents) is
o Leadership is addressed to give greater guidance to stakeholders.
* Implementation, monitoring and review
o The timescale for each task is included
o The need for monitoring and review is established
12The absence of a structured approach requires the study of destination marketing under theoretical lenses. Here a white paper which throws light on the existing theories which address the area has been studied. The crux of which is: As a consequence of globalization, the marketing of places has grown in importance as countries, regions and individual destinations compete with one another to attract investment and visitors. In order to compete effectively, it is essential to identify the critical success factors and ensure these are incorporated into one’s strategic planning. An extensive review of the literature covering place and destination marketing indicates that image and identity play an important role in differentiating between objectively similar alternatives. Accordingly, the branding of destinations has become of major importance and is analyzed in depth. (Halkier, 2008)
Place Branding A Case Study: Denmark
In order to observe a structured approach to Destination Branding the case study of Denmark has been reviewed. It proposes how theoretical models have been applied successfully in real life scenarios.
This paper examines the area of cross-sectoral branding where tourism is combined with other international economic activities in order to construct a common national umbrella brand. From a theoretical perspective the article contributes to the study of cross-sectoral place branding by developing a coherent analytical framework, drawing on recent contributions to the study of Other images and inter-organizational relations. On the basis of this, an empirical case study of the prospects for establishing a cross-sectoral umbrella brand is undertaken, focusing on Danish national tourism and inward investment promotion bodies. Having analyzed both the rationales behind and the image profiles of current branding efforts, it is concluded that while disagreement exists at the strategic level with regard to the potentials of umbrella branding, the differences between the current image profiles are of a more manageable character. In the case of Danish tourism and investment promotion, barriers to inter organizational cooperation, in other words, seem to be founded on unfavorable assumptions about potential alliance partners in view of own future aspirations rather than the present branding actions of the actors involved.
Bihar had once been the seat of the golden age of the Indian empire but now has shrivelled into one the most backward states of India. Some pockets in Bihar now exhibit one of the lowest living conditions the world over. Bihar post its bifurcation into two smaller states has lost most of its natural resources and the state has failed to catch the IT train which has left it with small scope of riding the ‘India Rising’ bus. The youth of Bihar are leaving its motherland and doing so the great state is losing its heritage. It is in the interest of not only the people of Bihar but also the nation to protect its cultural heritage.
An approach for Bihar can be based on the ‘Appreciation of Frames’ study by Schon wherein he demonstrates alternatives to approach in dealing with the housing problem within the social policy. One perspective frames slum areas as diseased, the other frames them as natural communities. When viewed as diseased, the problem becomes one of eradicating the diseases, with the implied solution of urban renewal and regeneration. This involves tearing down slums in order to stop the cycle of decay and relocating the inhabitants of the areas to newly planned and sanitized developments. In contrast, when viewed as natural communities the problem becomes one of dislocation. Natural communities should be preserved in order to maintain the beneficial outcomes of established patterns of interaction and informal networks which characterize them.
The Current State of Bihar
o Negative Brand Equity
o Change in local government
o Renewed faith of residents of the state in the system
o High rise in migration from the state
o High worth of Non residents
o Disparity in documented and actual state of tourist sites
o Lack of any dedicated communication focused on tourism
o Unorganized and fragmented efforts in maintenance of crafts and culture
o Tourist activity concentrated in pockets (e.g. Buddhist Circuit)
The notion of Bihar
“When Delhi newspapers publish articles on Bihar’s disorders and atrocities, they tend to make a point of emphasizing the state’s ‘backwardness’…”
“The first ballot-rigging recorded in India took pl ace in Bihar (in 1962)… the first instance of criminals being awarded parliamentary seats also took place in Bihar (in 1980)”
– William Dalrymple in
Caste wars and At the court of the fish-eyed Goddess
The above quotes, summarize the general impression that the public holds about Bihar.
From Laloo Yadav to corruption to crime – This is one state that has perpetually been in the news, and for all the wrong reasons. In the days immediately prior to the fodder scam, the media had a field day reporting Laloo and his antics, people were quoted saying that “Laloo was the most entertaining item on television”. (Nambisan, 2000) The extensive reporting, in the last few years with the explosion of the news media, has played an significant role in shaping public opinion and view about Bihar, its culture, and its citizens. Laloo Yadav has, in a way, come to symbolize Bihar to the audiences. So, Bihar, to a ordinary citizen, is a state full of rowdy, dishonest politicians, and heavily accented, non-English speaking, primitive simpletons.
I am often told, in a manner of considerable disbelief, “But you don’t sound like a Bihari at all!” – Because it appears that all Biharis are supposed to talk in heavily accented, wrecked English.
Evolution of Bihar over the Ages
The history of Bihar can be effortlessly traced back into ancient times. Bihar appears in the earliest mythology and legends of ancient India , as far back as the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Sita, the partner of Lord Rama, was a princess of Bihar. She was the daughter of King Janak of Videha. The present districts of Muzaffarpur, Sitamarhi, Samastipur, Madhubani, and Darbhanga, in north-central Bihar, mark this ancient kingdom. It is in fact, known that the author of the Ramayana, Maharishi Valmiki, lived in Ancient Bihar. Not only Hinduism, but Jainism and Buddhism have roots in Bihar. It was in here that Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment, and it was in the modern town of Gaya that the religion of Buddhism was born. It is here also that Lord Mahavira, the initiator of another great religion, Jainism, was born and attained nirvana. That site is located at the current town of Pawapuri, south east of Patna, the Capital of Bihar. It was also in Bihar that the tenth and last Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh was born and became a Guru. A beautiful Gurudwara (a temple for Sikhs) built to commemorate his memory – the Harmandir- is located in eastern Patna. Known reverently as the Patna Sahib, it is one of the five holiest places of devotion (Takhat) for Sikhs.
Kautilya, also known as Chanakya, the author of Arthashastra, the first discourse of the modern science of Economics, resided here. He was also the adviser to the Magadh king, Chandragupta Maurya.
Another Mauryan king, Samrat Ashok, around 270 B.C., was the first to formulate firm doctrine for the governance of a people. He had these doctrines, the so called Edicts of Ashok, inscribed on stone pillars which were installed across his empire. The pillars were crowned with the sculpture of one or more lions atop a pedestal which was inscribed with symbols of wheels. As the lion denoted might, the wheel denoted the never-ending nature of truth (dharma), hence the name Dharma Chakra. This of lions, atop a pedestal, with writing of a wheel, was adopted as the Official Seal of the independent Republic of India (1947). The dharma chakra was, also incorporated into the national flag of India, the Tricolor. (Biharinfoline, 2009)
In medieval period Bihar lost its stature as the political and cultural hub of India since the Mughal era was a period of national administration from Delhi. The only notable person of these period in Bihar was Sher Shah, or Sher Khan Sur, an Afghan. Based at Sasaram which is currently a town in the district of the similar name in central-western Bihar, this jagirdar of the Mughal Emperor Babur defeated Humayun, the son of Babur, not once but twice, first at Chausa and then, again, at Kannauj (in the present state of Uttar Pradesh or U.P.) In the course of his conquest Sher Shah became the monarch of a territory that extended till Punjab. He was not only a ferocious warrior but also a dignified administrator – in line with the tradition of Ashok and the Gupta kings. Numerous acts of land reforms are attributed to him. The remains of a grand crypt that he built for himself can be found at today’s Sasaram (Sher Shah’s maqbara.)
During British India, Bihar was a division of the Presidency of Bengal, and was managed from Calcutta. As such, this was a region very much dominated by the citizens of Bengal. All leading learning and medical hubs were in Bengal. Throughout the 20th century, Bihar saw a great deal of geographical division. When divided from the Bengal Presidency in 1912, Bihar and Orissa were a single province. (Kumar, 2007)At that time, an region in the south-east, primarily the district of Purulia, was separated and incorporated into West Bengal as part of the Linguistic Reorganization of Indian States. Yet another dissection of Bihar occurred in 2000, when after years of political hassle, the state of Jharkhand was carved out of the state of Bihar. The region of Jharkhand now includes southern districts of Bihar, and has the city of Ranchi as its capital.
The Politics of Bihar
Bihar played an significant role during the freedom resistance and it was from Bihar that Mahatma Gandhi started his civil-disobedience movement. It was at the unrelenting request of a cultivator, Raj Kumar Shukla, that Gandhiji visited Champaran, saw the sad predicament of the indigo farmers and the domination of the Biritsh. Many people from Bihar consequently became leading partakers in India’s struggle for freedom. The most distinguished was Dr. Rajendra Prasad, who went on to become Independent India’s first president. Another was Jay Prakash Narayan, also warmly called JP. JP’s considerable contribution to contemporary Indian history continued up until his demise in 1979. It was he who persistently and unwaveringly opposed the dictatorial rule of Indira Gandhi and her younger child, Sanjay Gandhi. Fearing people’s response to his opposition, Indira Gandhi had him detained on the eve of declaring nationwide Emergency beginning June 26, 1975. He was jailed in Tihar(near Delhi). The movement started by JP, nonetheless, brought the Emergency to an end, led to the colossal defeat of Indira Gandhi and her Congress Party at the elections, and, to the putting in place of a non-Congress government -The Janata Party – at Delhi, for the first time. With the approval of JP, Morarji Desai became the fourth Prime Minister of India. JP continued to be the Conscience of the Janata Party and of post-Gandhi – post-Nehru India. He called upon all Indians to work tirelessly towards removing “dictatorship in favour of democracy” and bringing about “independence from slavery”. Sadly, shortly after attaining power, internal strife among the leaders of the Janata Party led to the resignation of Shri Desai as the Prime Minister. JP persisted with his call for “total revolution”, but he succumbed to kidney failure in 1979.
Subsequent internal strife in the Janata Party led to the creation of a breakaway political party – the Janata Dal. It was also from this party that Laloo Prasad Yadav, the Chief Minister of Bihar was elected. A new party led by Mr. Yadav was shaped as – the Rashtriya Janata Dal – which went ruled for about 15 years in Bihar. The Janata Dal at first came to power in the state in 1990 on the support of its victory at the national stage in 1989. Laloo Prasad Yadav became the chief minister after winning the battle of legislative party leadership by a slim margin against Ram Sundar Das, a former chief minister from the Janata Party. Later, Laloo gained fame with the masses through a succession of populist measures. The honorable socialists, including Nitish Kumar, slowly left him and Laloo was the uncrowned king by 1995 as both Chief Minister as well as the President of his party, Rashtriya Janata Dal. He was a magnetic leader who had the people’s support and Bihar had got such a person as the chief minister after a long time. However, he derailed programs for the development of the state. When corruption charges got serious, he relinquished the post of CM but anointed his wife as the proxy CM. All through this period, law and order and management grew steadily poorer.
In 2005, as hostility reached a crescendo among the masses, middle class included, the RJD was voted out of control and Laloo Prasad lost the legislative elections to a coalition headed by his earlier partner and now rival Nitish Kumar.
Bihar – How much in the eye of the Beholder?
‘Bihar is in the eye of the beholder’ says Vijay Nambisan in his book of the same title. He attempts to paint a more positive portrait of Bihar at least in the opening chapters, attempting to be unlike those who trash everything about Bihar completely, and believe it beyond hope at any point. He states that Bihar is the richest among Indian states in terms of natural and mineral wealth, and only its political stat sets people thinking about it in a negative way.
However, as we read on, the state of Bihar and its citizens that Nambisan explains starts becoming similar to, more and more, the typecast that he was trying to shatter. It’s true that the tome is peppered with optimistic images, people and events, but overall, the picture that Nambisan paints is as dismal as any other. The stories and tales are mostly about corrupt politicians, gang lords getting the better of the community and the killings, extortions, and adversity that the ordinary man faces. In between, we have tales about devoted teachers overcoming caste discrimination, innovative women trying to make a living for themselves and their children, and intelligent young minds harassed against a system that otherwise fetters them. An entire section deals with the high occurrence of violence in the state and how it is taken as everyday phenomena – a scary situation.
Has Nambisan also fallen victim to the typecasting of Bihar? Or is the reality of Bihar so bleak that even the most optimistic picture that is painted of it shows more despair than hope?
“What is happening in Bihar is happening all over India. But Bihar is a microcosm of the whole; laboratory specimens, as it were, most easily brought under the microscope of analysis”. (Nambisan, 2000)The rest of India has a propensity to become self virtuous and holier than thou, and look down upon Bihar and Biharis as a pollutant. Politicians shake their heads and mumble, journalists condemn the collapse of democracy and the general public remains contented with just shuddering at the mere mention of it. What people do not want to admit is that the ills that plague the state are festering everywhere, in varying degrees and different stages of development. Such is the inclination to look upon Bihar and Biharis as a expression of all that is bad, that there have been reported cases of people accommodation to Bihari students in cities like Delhi, simply because they were scared to have Biharis beneath the same roof, thinking no doubt about probable robbery, rape and murder. (palgrave-journals, 2008)
Previously, there were a little half hearted attempts to industrialize the state: an oil refinery in Barauni, a motor scooter factory at Fatuha, and a power generation unit at Muzaffarpur. However, no continued effort had been made in this way, and there was little achievement in its industrialization. Historically, sugar and vegetable oil were prosperous industries of Bihar. Until the mid fifties, 25% of India’s sugar production was from Bihar. Dalmianagar was a large agro – industrial region. However, these were required to shut down due to flawed central policy which negated the strategic advantages of Bihar.
Recently the dairy trade has picked up very well in Bihar. Sugar industry is another one which has started to improve with 25 new sugar factories committed in Bihar between 2006 and 2007. Since 2005, the state government has taken the major task of creating a business friendly environment and investment opportunities and leverages the resources there for all big and small industrial houses.
There was a partition of Bihar in 2000, when the industrially superior and mineral-rich southern-half of the state was carved out to outline the separate state of Jharkhand. Since then, the main economic activity of Bihar has been crop growing. The new Bihar state produces about 60% of the yield of the old Bihar state. There is a tendency now, amongst politicians, to hold responsible the separation of Jharkhand from Bihar as a reason for the majority of the problems surrounding the growth of the state.
Biharis and Non-Biharis : Perceptions and Opinions
Respondents were asked to name anything that came to their mind when they thought of the “Bihar”. The top of the mind recollection is the strongest connection that a person’s mind makes among two things and it was fascinating to see the diverse things, people or places that respondents linked with Bihar. The respondents were then additionaly probed on other stuff that they linked with Bihar, how the connection came about and why. Respondents in both cases were also asked about famous places or people that they associated with Bihar. This kind of factual information gave a few insights into how much authentic knowledge the respondent had regarding the state, and whether knowing more concerning Bihar, its history and culture changed the opinions and perceptions of the people at all. As was anticipated, people from Bihar possessed significantly more factual knowledge about Bihar. What was exciting was that though there were distinct disparity between Biharis and Non Biharis concerning perceptions about Bihar, there were still some expected threads.
As a youthful housewife from a small town in Bihar put it, “Jab tak rahega samose mein aaloo, tab tak rahega Bihar mein Laloo” . The line is a famous one, from a speech by the great politician himself. Almost all the respondents thought of Laloo Yadav first when asked to name celebrities linked with Bihar. In one case, a young university student of Delhi University was unable to think of any other renowned person or place that she knew of, from Bihar. Among Non Biharis, Laloo unquestionably enjoyed top of the mind recall, as every respondent, with no exception named him. Even amongst my Bihari respondents, a number of them reflected of Laloo Yadav as one of the eminent people associated with Bihar. An interesting incident that I observed here was that respondents from the younger age bracket could think only of Laloo when it came to associating eminent personalities with Bihar. Some of the older age bracket remembered Jai Prakash Narayan, even smaller number remembered Rajendra Prasad. Despite being the present Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar was not recollected as frequently as Laloo by the respondents. There was hardly any talk about of personalities from fields other than politics. One or two respondents recollected Prakash Jha for his films and the stand-up comedian Shekhar Suman, but it seemed that the lone people from Bihar that had achieved any fame at all were politicians. There was one interesting case where I interviewed an elderly lady, who had spent almost her whole life in Bihar, save for a period of few years in Delhi. She had no complicatedness naming famous personalities connected with Bihar, right from ancient times. She also had a authentic tourist guide’s list of the famous places of Bihar, for historical or cultural importance. This was in bare contrast to the younger age bracket, who knew moderately little of Bihar’s history, despite having lived there. This led me to consider that media had clearly played an extremely important role in formation of even the level of factual information that people possessed, apart from determining their opinions .Laloo Yadav yet again was the chief image that came to people’s minds when asked about their observation about Bihar. Though, the awareness of Bihar was not limited to just the image of Laloo. Having named Laloo as the foremost thing that came to mind on hearing “Bihar”, most of the respondents and interviewees went on to talk about the corruption and disorder that had become widespread in the state during his rule. (bstdc, 2009). The above quote from my interview with a lecturer in Ahmadabad summed up a what Non Biharis as well as Biharis felt about Bihar. The view is that the state has been devastated by dirty politics, and not allowed to build up in any fashion over the time, and the overpowering emotions were those of bleakness and sadness at the state of affairs. While talking of opinions and associations with Bihar, there was marked disparity between respondents from inside and outside Bihar. Almost all Biharis spoke affectionately of memories of their childhood and youth spent in Bihar, and had some sort of a sense of belonging to the place, which obviously came from having spent a long time in the state and having fond memories to look back upon. Even when they spoke of the ills that plague the state, the manner in which this was spoken about was one of sorrow that the situation had turned out to be so bad. In contrast, Non Biharis spoke in a manner that implied a sense of almost disgust from the state and the state of affairs there. A 2o year old college undergraduate from Delhi University summed it up when she said (bstdc, 2009) The same response, in not so many words, echoed across other interviews of Non Biharis.
Overall, the awareness of people about Bihar was related to Laloo. In one way or the other, roughly all respondents were of the view of Laloo while answering this inquiry. The biggest substantiation that suggested this came from an interview with a young college student from Ahmedabad, who spoke of Biharis as primitive, and speaking in a typical dialect. (Halkier, Contemplating Place Branding Umbrellas. The Case of Coordinated National Tourism andBusiness Promotion in Denmark, 2008)
Amongst all the states of the country, Bihar is in all probability the one that enjoys a distinctive history. It is here that religions followed the world over, Buddhism and Jainism were born, even as Hinduism flourished. It is here that an important advocate of a fourth religion – Guru Gobind Singh of the Sikhs was born. And it is here that the world’s first institution of higher education at Nalanda was established. And if all that is not sufficient, it was in Bihar that Gandhiji launched his Satyagraha movement in opposition to the British rule. (Cameron, 2008)
Bihar without doubt bears the profound weight of history, but bears it with much warmth and awareness. For both Buddhists and Jains, the land is sprinkled with monuments and sacred pilgrimage centers, while the Hindus have no fewer temples. However, it has not shied away from accepting the modern. The old learning centers continue in the structure of newer centers of excellence, the olden day trade hubs have paved way for the fresh economy and even newer technologies.
Bihar is a land sanctified with beauty both spiritual and physical. Its vast lands, fed by some of the country’s most important rivers, have ensured prosperity. It has a rich traditions and legacy and its people are meticulous and fun loving.
Places of Int
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