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Evaluating Gujarat Tourism

Info: 5455 words (22 pages) Dissertation
Published: 6th Dec 2019

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Tagged: Tourism


Gujarat has all the ingredients to become one of India’s leading travel destinations – natural beauty, rich heritage, ancient archaeological sites and a colourful culture as well. Yet, Gujarat tourism has not met success in comparison to destination branding success stories such as Kerala, Rajasthan, Goa, etc.

The primary aim of this study was to study destination Gujarat and probe for the reasons behind this phenomenon. A secondary aim of this study was to explore destination branding as a concept by evaluating Gujarat tourism and in the process understand how domestic and foreign tourists choose destinations for travel.

The literature review highlighted issues such as critical success factors behind destination brands, growth of destination brands on the internet and the main points of the current tourism policy of Gujarat. There was a lack of information on Gujarat Tourism and hence a research was conducted which had both qualitative and quantitative components. The results from this research were used to compare destination Gujarat with three other competing states.
Finally, on the basis of the research findings and analysis it was recommended that Gujarat has the potential to become a top tourist destination if it manages to create a distinct identity and strong brand associations via effective marketing strategies.


Since centuries Gujarat has been a vibrant melting pot of cultures, traditions and movements. It has also been blessed with a unique natural landscape and architecture which includes ruins of a long forgotten ancient Harappan civilization at Dholavira and Lothal to the abode of endangered wildlife like the Asiatic Lion and Wild Ass not found anywhere else in the world; from the holy town of Dwarka to the glorious Modhera Sun Temple built by the Solanki rulers.

Yet, unlike rival tourist states such as Rajasthan, Kerela, Andhra Pradesh and Goa, Gujarat has still not been able to fulfill its tourist potential. Much of it is due to an inability to carve out a unique identity and develop offerings which attracts more tourists.

The objective of the study ‘Understanding and Evaluating Gujarat Tourism’ is to understand Gujarat as an emerging tourist destination and on the basis of research suggest recommendations for it to be amongst the leading tourist destinations in India.

The main reasons for choosing this topic as an area for study are:

* Marketing destinations provides an immense challenge to any management student in my opinion. It is an extremely complex product which has a mix of natural beauty, heritage, culture, tradition, folkart, food, etc. The study provides an opportunity to understand and analyze the marketing of such a product

* Most of the academic articles that I came across on destination branding were written in a global context. A few case studies have been written on successful tourist states such as Kerela, Uttarkhand, etc. There is no recent research as such done on Gujarat tourism or its marketing and branding initiatives

* Around six years ago, research had been done in MICA on “How to attract foreign tourists to Gujarat”. However, this project was not academic in its outlook and much has changed the way communication flows since then

Destination Branding

To understand, Gujarat as a tourist brand it is imperative to understand the concept of destination branding that has been looked upon by various academicians.

Tourist Destinations

Tourism destinations are products of history and culture. To some level, a successful tourist destination is one which can connect instantly with the cultural background of its potential tourist. If one looks at the meanings associated with a particular place, some of them are shared by the local community whereas others are shared by global cultural communities. For example, a place like Manali or Rishikesh attracts tourists from all over the world.

Hence a tourism destination may generate certain internationally shared meanings which can constitute a standardized platform from which a culturally di¬€erentiated market communication can take its point of departure and provide a distinct flavor. An effective portrayal and communication of these meanings is what ultimately helps the tourist decide one place over another.

Concept of Destination Brands

In today’s age of globalization, intense competition between destinations is forcing various states to build a strong distinct destination brand which can help differentiate one state from another and attract tourists as well as investors. To create this unique identity and build the competitive edge , it is important to study the microenvironment, tourist behavior and trends, strategies adopted by other successful tourist destinations, evaluation of its own strengths and weaknesses, etc. as a basis for coming up with effective communication strategies.

Hence the marketing of places has received more increased interest and become accordingly more sophisticated over the last three decades.

Also from a marketer’s perspective, many have shied away from the topic- arguing that places are too complex to be included in branding discussions since they have too many stakeholders and too little management control; they have underdeveloped identities and are not perceived as brands by the general public. And yet, destination branding is one of today’s hottest topics among place marketers – from Switzerland and New Zealand to Hawaii and Costa Rica. (Piggott, 2001)

As per the World Tourism Organisation, this century will mark the emergence of tourist destinations as fashion accessories. The choice of holiday destinations will help define the identity of the traveller and in an increasing homogenous world will set him apart from the hordes of other tourists (Lurham, 1998)

As style and status indicators destinations can offer the same consumer benefits as other more highly branded lifestyle accoutrements such as cars, perfumes, watches and clothes. All are used to communicate, reflect and reinforce associations, statements and group memberships and in the same way tourists use their trips as expressive devices to communicate messages about themselves to peers and observers. Travel for leisure is often a highly involving experience, extensively planned, excitedly anticipated and fondly remembered. Souvenirs and props trigger and display those experiences – photographs, videos and ‘wish you were there’ postcards are shared with friends and relatives, and logo emblazoned merchandise and luggage labels proclaim ‘ been there, done that’ to any observers who care to notice. (Clarke, 2000)

So, what exactly is a brand ?

In marketing terms a brand represents a unique combination of product characteristics and added values, both functional and non-functional, which have taken on a relevant meaning which is inextricably linked to that brand, awareness of which might be conscious or intuitive. (Macrae, Parkinson, & Sheerman, 1995)

Brand advantage is secured through communication which highlights the specific benefits of a product, culminating in an overall impression of a superior brand. The image the product creates in the consumer’s mind, how it is positioned, however is of more importance to its ultimate success than its actual characteristics. Brand managers position their brands so that they are perceived by the consumer to occupy a niche in the marketplace occupied by no other brand- thus, for marketers, the value of a successful brand lies in its potential to reduce substitutability. Brand managers differentiate their product by stressing attributes they claim will match their target markets needs more closely than other brands and then they create a product image consistent with the perceived self image of the targeted consumer segment (Schiffman & Kanuk, 2000).

When consumers make brand choices about the products including destinations- they are making lifestyle statements since they are buying into not only an image but also an emotional relationship. (Sheth, Mittal, & Newman, 1999). Consumers have their own brand wardrobes from which they make selections to communicate, reflect and reinforce associations, statements and memberships; in effect, ‘ consumers enrobe themselves with brands, partly for what they do, but more for what they help express about their emotions, personalities and roles. (Chernatony, 1993)

When one speaks about destination branding, a few attempts have been made at defining it.

Some of these definitions include,

‘Destination branding is a process used to develop a unique identity and personality that is different from all competitive destinations.’

‘Destination branding is selecting a consistent brand element mix to identify and distinguish a destination through positive image building.’

‘Destination branding is about combining all things associated with the ‘place’ (i.e., its products and services from various industries — agriculture; tourism; sports; arts; investment; technology; education, etc.) that collaborate under one brand. Its aim is to capture the essence of the destination, in a unified manner, and can be consumed simultaneously at a symbolic and experiential level. It is then used to market those unique added values to consumer needs and sustaining its success in the face of competition.’

From the above we can infer that destinations behave just like products. Thus they also have a life cycle of their own during which they need to constantly stay relevant and salient if they are to remain successful destination brands.

Tourism area life cycle shows the stages a destination goes through, from exploration to involvement to development to consolidation to stagnation to rejuvenation or decline (also known as the “tourism destination life cycle”)

Just like product brands, image is all important and how a place is represented can inspire people to visit and revisit it. (Coshall, 2000) Never was the saying ‘accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative’ more true than in destination branding. Destination marketing requires foresight and planning but it is not an exact science and branding offers destination marketers an opportunity to communicate key place attributes to their intended audience. Branding can help bridge any gaps between a destination’s strengths and potential visitor’s perceptions.

Place reputations are not made in a vacuum and neither are tourist choices, so place marketers must establish how their destination’s image compares with those of its key competitors. How the destination rates according to ‘wish you were here?’ appeal and celebrity value is critical. Do tourists regard it as a fashion accessory, a must see place on every aspirational traveler’s shopping list or as a fashion paux- somewhere with no conversational value and even less C:UsersMIHIRDesktop1.jpgstatus.

The represents a celebrity matrix and illustrates a range of destination brands measured on the axes of emotional appeal and celebrity value. Obviously, how people relate to any destination brand depends on their own individual interests, opinions and experiences, and such

On any positioning map, however, brand winners emerge as those places which are rich in emotional meaning, have great conversation value and hold high anticipation for potential tourists. By comparison, brand losers are places with little meaning, even less status, virtually no conversation value and zero anticipation for tourists.

Problem places are those destinations which are talked about for the wrong reasons and, far from holding an emotional appeal, actively repel potential tourists. Places which currently offer little emotional pull face an uphill task if they are to ever become destination winners. Other destinations which do have emotional pull but currently have limited celebrity value hold huge untapped potential and could be tomorrow’s winner destination brands.

The challenge for their marketers is to craft identities for these destinations which convey and build on their emotional appeal and which turn them into places with high celebrity value. The message here is that rich, strong destination brands seem clearly differentiated and have a sense of being somewhere worth visiting.

Thus, today destination brand building is all about developing a rich, relevant brand personality. ‘Developing’ is the key word here as successful brands never stagnate; instead they reflect and respond to changes in consumer’s lives while the brand’s core values remain the same, its personality will continue to evolve. (Morgan, Pritchard, & Pride, 2002)

Over a period of time, any successful destination brand will have an emotional bond with its stakeholders and more importantly the tourists who have visited the destination as well as potential tourists. An excellent example of this, is Mumbai the commercial capital of India which has over decades has established its image as the ‘City of Dreams’ or the ‘City that never sleeps’ which reflects the impact and emotional connect it has built with one and all.

To successfully create such an emotional attachment a destination brand has to be:

* Credible

* Deliverable

* Differentiating

* Convey powerful ideas

* Enthusing for trade partners

* Resonating with the consumer

A destination which is currently building such a brand proposition around its stunning natural environment is New Zealand. (Harris, 2000) A geographically disadvantaged destination, New Zealand is in the process of building a strong brand to double the country’s foreign exchange receipts to more than 3 million pounds by 2005.

Delving further into the concept of brand personality for a destination brand, one can say that a brand’s personality has both a head and a heart – its head refers to the logical brand features, while its heart refers to its emotional benefits and associations. Brand propositions and communications can be based around either a brand’s head or it’s heart; head communications convey a brand’s rational values, while heart communications reveal its emotional values and associations. Brand benefit pyramids sum up consumer relationships with a brand and are frequently established during the consumer research process where consumers are usually asked to describe what features a destination offers and what the place means to them.

(Morgan & A, 2002) The brand pyramid can be instrumental in helping to distil the essence of a destination brand’s advertising proposition. This refers to the point at which consumer’s wants and the destination’s benefits and features intersect – any communication should then encapsulate the spirit of the brand.
The Challenge of a Destination Brand

Examples of countries being influenced by external pressures to adapt and change their marketing activities or whose marketing is seriously compromised by events outside their marketer’s control, highlight the fact that destinations are not a single product but composite products consisting of a bundle of different components, including accommodation and catering establishments; tourist attractions; arts, entertainment and cultural avenues; and the natural environment. (Buhalis, 2000) Destination marketers have relatively little control over these different aspects of their product and a diverse range of agencies and companies are partners in the task of crafting brand identities. These could include local and national government agencies, environmental groups and agencies, chambers of commerce, trade associations and civic groups. While packaged groups normally have an obvious core- so their advertisements can anchor themselves to product performance and attributes – with destinations the situation is much less clear. (Morgan & Pritchard, 1999)

Yet destinations have very strong and pervasive associations for tourists which if skillfully orchestrated, can provide the basis for brand building. (Baloglu & Brinberg, 1997)Today’s tourists are not asking ‘what can we do on holiday?’, but ‘who can we be on holiday?’. They are increasingly looking less for escape and more discoveries and that creates an emotional connection which marketers can exploit through branding. The challenge beyond that is to make the destination brand live, so that visitors truly experience the brand values and feel the authenticity of a unique place
Factors leading to successful tourist destinations

At the core of any successful tourist brand, is a clear set of brand values – emotional and functional, a robust brand identity, an attractive brand personality and an efficient and targeted communication strategy.

Another critical factor that impacts the brand image of tourist places is the flavor and image of the local inhabitants. Studies have proved that a place’s image is more often than not shaped by the ‘typical’ local people and their culture.

Destination image, similar to the image of products and services can be seen as a multi-item construct, implying that the sum of the attributes, are the elements of ¬nal composite image. This comes in line with Gensch who argues that product image is evaluated by its attributes. So, basically destination images are the result of individual attributes plus a more holistic image.

The following table contains some of the critical success factors identified for destination branding (Baker & Cameron, 2008):

Strategic orientation

1. Visitation statistics are included and the destination’s main markets are quanti¬ed and segmented

2. The main competition is identi¬ed

3. Tourism trends are identi¬ed

4. A long-term orientation is adopted

5. The importance of international competitiveness is recognised

6. The need for infrastructure improvements is highlighted

7. The need for integration with national/regional tourism plans is recognised

8. Residents attitudes to tourism are considered

9. Local cultures, values and lifestyles are considered

10. Wealth and job creation and quality of life for residents are primary aims

11. The issue of overcrowding is addressed

12. The issue of environmental problems is addressed

13. The issue of seasonality is addressed

14. The bene¬t of tourism to the destination is quanti¬ed

15. Scenarios are developed

Destination identity and image

16. The need to develop brand identity is recognized

17. Brand associations are identified

18. The need for image development is recognised

19. Positioning is discussed

20. The need for coordination of industry promotional material is recognised

21. Recognition to ensuring the promises made in marketing communications are conveyed to visitors

22. New and innovative forms of communication channels are addressed

23. The need to improve branding and brand awareness is recognised

24. The importance of experiences to tourists as opposed to tangible propositions is recognised

Stakeholder involvement

25. National government agencies are involved in planning

26. Local government agencies were involved in planning

27. The area tourist board/area tourist office was involved in planning

28. Local residents were involved in planning

29. Local businesses were involved in planning

30. The need to improve communication between stakeholders (public, private and residents) is recognized

31. Leadership is addressed to give greater guidance to stakeholders.

Implementation, monitoring and review

32. The timescale for each task is included

33. The need for monitoring and review is established Evaluating destination brands

The strategic brand analysis framework comprises three main parts:

* Tourist analysis,

* Competitor analysis

* Self-analysis.

First, a destination must conduct a systematic tourist analysis. It should focus on identifying relevant new trends and developing a thorough understanding of tourists’ motivation for travel.

Secondly, a destination should also carry out a competitor analysis. A destination needs insights into the competitors’ advantages and disadvantages in order to improve its own competitiveness. For example, by capitalizing on perceived niche market opportunities that rival destinations have so far failed to respond to.

Last but not the least; a destination should aim to identify its true position in the market through the systematic preparation of a critical self-analysis.
Highlights of the Gujarat Tourism Policy 2003-10


With a view to accelerating the pace of economic activities through tourism, the Government of Gujarat had announced the tourism policy for a period from 2003 to 2010. As per this, the following were some the key objectives

* To initiate event based tourism

* Chalking out of tourist circuits

* Attention to be paid to tourism related infrastructure

* Adoption of innovative marketing techniques and promotional tools

* Developing manpower in the area of tourism

* More private public relationships

* Facilitation through Government policies for quick development

* District Administration should play a more proactive role in tourism activities

Incentives to the private sector

The policy envisages privatization and incentivisation of all competitive and commercial activities of the tourism corporation of Gujarat Limited. Under this strategy the following incentives will be made available to the private sector:

* Tourism will be given status of industry

* Incentive package for new tourism projects

* Strengthening of infrastructure facilities

* Effective mechanism to build coordination with central government, state government, local self-government and NGOs

* Land acquisition various tourism projects

* Loan facilities will extended for tourism related projects

* Better incentive packages

* A special paying guest scheme to compensate for inadequate accommodation facilities

* Suitable schemes for marketing tourism products

* Reputed consultants will be hired to develop master plans

* Decentralizing the process of development of destinations

* A single window clearance system for speedy clearance

Mechanism for implementation of policy

For implementation of the policy, it is essential on the part of the State Government to play a facilitative role by granting necessary permissions/clearances required by investors in a time bound manner. The facilities of Gujarat Industrial Promotion Board (GIPB) set up to grant necessary clearances on fast track basis under the system of Single Window Clearance will now be made applicable to Tourism Sector also. All projects having investment less than Rs 50 crore will be approved at the Government level and the projects having investment exceeding Rs 50 crore will be approved by GIPB.

The Commissioner (Tourism) and Managing Director, Tourism Corporation of Gujarat will act as the Secretariat of GIPB, for the purpose of investment in tourism projects.
The Vision of the State Government for Tourism development

For the growth of overall development of economic sector and social sector, the State is determined to develop tourism as a key growth sector. It has been decided by the State Government to provide condusive climate for this sector to grow and for the purpose, Tourism has been identified as the Engine of Growth. For the purpose, efforts will be made by way of promoting:

* Hospitality Industry

* Indirect Employment

* Cultural Development

* Infrastructure Development

* Employment Opportunities

* Sustenance of rich heritage of arts and crafts

Proposed Marketing Strategy to attract tourists

The State Government is keen to attract flow of tourists in the State and for the purpose, international fairs like Navratri festival, kite festival; etc will be arranged in the State from time to time. Further, the students of Gujarat shall be encouraged to develop an interest for communication through e-mail with the students and other persons abroad to interact with them about Gujarat and ultimately motivate them to visit Gujarat.

Means to attract investment

The policy promises for long term investment and business opportunities for national and international corporate bodies and private enterprises. The sectors like hospitality industry, eco-tourism, Viswa Gram Global village, Dinosaur theme park, Cruise trips with whale watch, Deep driving and snorkeling snorkeling of coral island, Golf Courses, Royal orient gauge conversion, Special Entertainment Zones, Wayside amenities, etc are the areas to attract further investment in Tourism Sector, leading ultimately to attract tourists flow.

Relationship between Industrial Development and Tourism

The massive flow of investment in industrial sector will increase the frequency of visits by executives of different industrial houses. Further, the investment in infrastructure sector in port and road, will also increase the international trade from Gujarat and particularly from the land locked states. All these developments are expected to play an important role to increase the flow of business tourists.
Gujarat Tourism at a Glance Today

Some of the emerging areas identified by Gujarat Tourism are as follows:

Spiritual Tourism / Religious Tourism

Many of Gujarat’s historical monuments represent the great religions of Asia Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Islam, Zoroastrianism and Sikkhism. Gujarat has two Jyotirlings ( Somnath and Dwarka ), two shakti peets ( Ambaji and Pavagarh ), Narmada river (one of the seven holiest for the Hindus) and Narayan Sarovar ( One of the five holy lakes in India ).

Two of the five important Jain sites ( Palitana and Girnar ) are in Gujarat besides a host of popular Jain temples spread across the state at Shankeshwar, Tarangaji, Mehsana,etc.

The Dargahs of Sarkhej and Unjha hold great importance for the Muslims of India.

Also, in Gujarat are Sacred Iranshaw Fire Temple at Udavada, Navsari Atashbehram and Surat Atashbehram. All three hold utmost importance for the Parsi community in the country.

A number of popular spiritual gurus such as Morari Bapu, Asharam Bapu and Rameshji Oza have ashrams spread across the states. These attract followers from all over the globe.

Akshardham is also a very popular temple of the wealthy Swaminarayan sect.

Medical / Well Being Tourism

Medical tourism is seen having a particularly high growth potential because of the availability of high-quality, low cost surgeries at Gujarat’s hospitals. The large population of people of Gujarati origin in America, Europe and Africa can be a major growth driver for this segment of tourism.

It is home to some of the finest world class hospitals in the world such as Apollo Hospitals, Wockhardt Hospitals, etc. Care has been taken to ensure such places are set throughout the state at places such as Ahmedabad, Baroda, Surat, Karamsad, Nadiad, etc.

Gujarat is also home to the ancient healing art of ayurveda and fine ayurvedic treatment has been made available to domestic as well as foreign tourists across the state.

Archaeological and Heritage Tourism

The archaeological zone of Champaner, Pavagadh has been acclaimed by UNESCO as the “World Heritage Site1 because of its great mosques, temples, stepwells and forts. There are more than 400 archaeological sites in the Slate including some of the most substantial excavations of Indus Valley civilisation period at Lothal (near Ahmedabad), Surkotada and Dholavira

Cultural Tourism

Gujarat is the land of rich handicrafts like Patola weaving, khadi, bandhani, embroidery, block printing, rogan painting, matani pachhedi, namda, woodcrafts,etc.

Gujrat also possesses a diverse mix of exotic communities from the camel riders of Kutch to the tribals of the hilly regions of Sabarkanta, Dangs, Chhota Udaipur, etc.

Event-Based Tourism

The Gujrat tourism department has created a variety of successful event properties such as Rann Mahotsav, Vibrant Gujarat, Modhera Dance Festival, International Kite Flying Festival, etc.

With the celebration of festivals like Navaratri Mahotsav, Tarnetar Fair, Sharadotsav, Dangs Darbar and Kvant Fair the state intends to put the rich culture of Gujarat on the world map

Business Tourism

Today Gujarat has emerged as an immensely popular business destination and 55 SEZ’s in the state reflect the increase in business tourist, air traffic and road traffic

Entertainment and Recreation Tourism

Gujarat has a famous hill station in the form of Saputara. Its vast coastline of 1666km means that there are beautiful beaches all along the coast such as the one at Mandvi. Gujarat also has ample of theme parks, water parks and multiplexes too which provide entertainment.

Wildlife Tourism

For eco-tourists, the state offers opportunities to see a wide range of wildlife including the Asiatic lion and Indian wild ass, endangered antelopes, a variety of deer. etc. It has India’s first marine national park. Gujarat is also one of India’s most important areas for birdwatchers.

Some Statistics

Total of 33 Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs) involving an investment of INR10.793 crore {USD 2.57billion) were signed at 2007 vibrant Gujarat Global Investor’s Summit (VGGIS). Tourism sector registered an increase of 47 % over the investments in 2005 VGG IS

The domestic air-traffic in Gujarat increased from 1.21 million in 2005-06 to 1.93 million in 2006-07 and the international air-traffic increased from 0.13 million in 2006-07 to 0.33 million in 2006-07.

The State witnessed total 12.34 million tourists during 2006 – 07 out of which 12.1 million were the domestic tourists and 0.20 million foreign tourists.

The average contribution of tourism industry to the State’s GDP is close to 2.5 %, while the comparable for India is 5.3%. The average foreign tourist spend per person per day is close to USD 700 to 1050 in Gujarat.

The total flow of tourist during the year 2006 – 07 was 12.34 million and recorded a growth of 15% over the previous year. Growth of 18.5 % was also observed in the foreign tourist inflow. With a number of more than 2 lakh foreign tourists in 2006-07 and around 1.75 lakhs in 2005-06.

Recent tourist flows for the year 2008-09 suggest that the number has gone up 15.80 million tourists which include 12.2 million from with Gujarat, 3.2 million from other states and 2.9 lakh from foreign tourists.

Ahmedabad, Ambaji and Dwarka are the major tourist destinations which invited the maximum number of tourists in Gujarat. These three destinations accounted for nearly 33% of tourist inflow.

Almost 77.2% of the tourist flow in 2006- 07 was from within Gujarat. The Share of other states was 20.2%. The foreign tourists accounted for 2.68% in the total tourist inflow.

During the 2006-07 season, the majority of tourist visit for the business purpose (53%) in the state, subsequently followed by religious visit (35%). 8% of the tourist visit for the leisure purpose, which is showing an increasing trend.

Value Chain Analysis

The tourism value chain concentrates on meeting and exceeding visitor’s expectations of the internal quality of a destination. Those aspects of a destination that involve every step from pre-visit image, marketing and after sales care and commitment.

Each stage of t

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