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I normally keep a seperation of concerns between my travel blog and my ‘general’ blog, but starting the other day out of a writer’s block on the latter I ended up more or less on talking about one of the things I love about travel – Trains. Here is more..

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So I believe  that tourism in Australia from the UK is going to see a rather big upswing in 2012, never mind that the big games are here in London and its the Queen’s anniversary and it’s the year of culture and so on. The thing is, it’s winter at the moment and whilst it’s been a warm one, the Sun has been doing a shorter stint than usual. I would say about 10% less sunshine compared to last year day on day average. So more time indoors, more TV time, more Internet time and more newspapers, basically more of media. And with that backdrop enters Australia,in the ads, in the promos, on the newspaper, just about everywhere showcasing a paradise with sun, blue waters, adventure, buzz and just about everything that is an antidote to the British winter niggles. It may mot be that the NothingLikeAustralia campaign is stealing away London Olympic thunder, but it is making a dent alright. Winter months also being the times when holiday plans are made, its almost perfect timing to run a campaign. And that’s not all, quietly in concert I believe, emirates has been running its A380 super liner campaign with 20 flights a week down under,

20 A380 flights a week! When did that happen? This winged beast wasn’t even getting off the assembly for ages and now we have a virtual Emi(g)rates flotilla of them, enough I think to ship my borough off in under a week off to the sunny Oz clime.

Well whatever it is, must admit its a classy, enticing campaign with the right timing, visuals, messages and actually good sense. Bill Gates himself added a bit credibility to their case in his new year tweet. And that has me thinking as well. Trouble is unlike Bill I have to be more measured in my spend plans, but am keener than before.  So come some summer I will plan. In the meantime I’ll hold guard at the Olympics this August whilst most of the holidaying UK  prepares to fly down under.

Position this – A) A country with 400 National parks, 70 wildlife sanctuaries, 4000 year old History, the greatest mountain range in the word, the best whitewater rapids in the world, a subtropical coastline that is an envy of the world, and pearly islands that can compete with the Hawaiis of the world, a topography with practically every kind of variation earth has to offer, cuisine that has pervaded the nook and corner of the world, and much more.., also the largest democracy in the world – gets a paltry 4.4 million tourists a year.

And B) an island which is less than than 0.01% of the above country in size gets 7.5 million.

A) India B)Singapore.

Why? See www.incredibleindia.org for some more and you might wonder India should be as much compelling destination as any other, isnt.

No single reason , but the Government by large should hold the credit for this (lack of) achievement.  In 1960’s and Tourism in India was ranked somewhere as 126th or 127th on the priority list of industries for development, lower than the industry development of lighthouses!

Awareness has grown, and perhaps the priority, but even in the current context, poor project and funds management at the ground level, lack of accountability, political problems, infrastructure arent helping turn things around.

I was just reading P Chidambram’s essays in his book “A view from outside” in which he cites N.R. Narayana Murthy’s assertion that the Taj Mahal, and what its symbolism represents a $20 Bn opportunity for India and employment. Simple math as quoted in the book – there are 200 Mn couples in developed nations. Even if 10% of them decide to spend their anniversary by the Taj in the typical 2 night, 3 day model, that at about a $1000 spend per couple can be a $20 Bn opportunity. Imagine adding to that a cruise by a resurrected Yamuna by Taj, then some more perhaps.  And then add up all the features mentioned earlier, each is a huge opportunity by its own right.

Pipe dream perhaps. Its not about a desire to do it,  only when things get down to ground it becomes a game of oneupmanship, egos,  red tape, sloth, jurisdictions – in corporate speak – misaligned KPIs and  institutionalized mediocrity.  As things stand no reform in the present government either seems headed in a direction, to suggest things will be any better in near or far future.

 

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