Tsunami, the killer waves triggered by an undersea earthquake in distant Indonesia, slammed into India's
coastline state of Tamil Nadu and the remote Andaman and Nicobar islands causing severe damages.
The Tsunami in Numbers
Homes damaged or destroyed
People displaced (some in relief
Travel & tourism economy
% of total
2005 growth forecast (post
Tourism earnings (expected %
India suffered the third highest death toll after Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Nearly 10,000 died, most of them women
and children, and more than 140, 00 were displaced. The tsunami struck the south-east coast of mainland India
in four states. Many fishing communities were devastated.
Over 1,000 km away, the Andaman and Nicobar islands also suffered extensive damage. The islands are
close to the coast of Thailand but politically they belong to India. Fifteen ofthe 37inhabited islands were
affected and seven islands had to be completely evacuated. Of the missing5,542 islanders, 4,500 are from
India initially refused international assistance for the Andamans because there is a military base on one island
and indigenous tribes on others. More than 40,000 people are in relief camps. As with all the destinations, the
tsunami hit India during the peak holiday season and tourist arrivals dropped considerably.
Marketing Spin: The Reaction of the Tourist Authorities
„These destinations can‟t make a full recovery until seat capacity is restored and the (travel) industry starts
aggressively marketing and selling them‟
Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) President and CEO Peter de Jong
Tourism is a major industry and source of foreign income so it‟s no surprise that the different tourist authorities
were galvanised, with almost unseemly haste, into reassessing their marketing plans.
The upbeat „business as usual‟ tone of the early post-tsunami messages jarred with reality and the plight of many
of the survivors. There was much talk of opportunities to rebuild better/luxury tourism. This approach inevitably
favours the interests of the larger businesses – the very companies likely to recover the fastest because they can
mobilise credit and possibly insurance claims to help cover rebuilding costs.
More than seven months after 26 December, figures show that the tourism industry in tsunami- affected countries
is suffering. The Thai resort of Phuket is struggling, with arrivals down 40% and spending down 30%.
International arrivals to the Maldives are down 46% year-on-year.
The Tsunami had a disastrous effect on social and economic life of the affected regions like Andaman & Nicobar
Local Tourism suffered indeed, as the tourists simply stopped coming, scared off by all the negative publicity.
Just 3,300 people made it in the first quarter of 2005, a drop of more than 90 percent.
But it did not make any significant difference in the overall tourism scenario in India because the Tsunami hit ANI
lie 1,200 km off India's eastern coast, far away from the big tourist spots such as Goa or Rajasthan.
The Andaman Islands were always one of India's least known tourist destinations
Top four (4) states capture more than 75% of total market share of Indian domestic tourist visits.
In fact Tourist arrivals in India rose 23.5 per cent in December ‟04 from a year ago. A government statement on
January ‟05 said that the number of foreign visitors in the past month increased to 394,166 from 319,271 a year
earlier while foreign exchange earnings rose 30.2 per cent to $498.24 million in the same period.
The official tourism websites and Incredible India campaigns make little reference to the tsunami. India‟s
marketing strategy has been to carry on focusing on its multi-million dollar Incredible India campaign that was
launched in 2003. .
Background of Incredible India!
Incredible India campaign was launched in the year 2002, March – www.tourismofindia.org . This was followed
by an „online‟ campaign the logic was „travel & tourism is the most researched product online‟.
The website was launched mid-March 2002 with 400 destinations covered. To promote the site, 75 banners were
used for the campaign. The Click through rate was 1.2% on India sites and for International sites it was 0.45%.
International sites were getting traffic from US and the Europe. Cost /unique visitor was Rs.9 (20 cents, average
of Indian & International sites)
The campaign became so successful that the language was changed from one to seven. Even the media plan
was optimised toinclude more touch points.
Taking cues from the online success, the brand went into a 360 degree marketing campaign where the banner
placement was made on high visibility sections on Indian & International sites. SMS messages were sent out to
the interested tourists. There were innovative contest to connect with the potential customers. At times the brand
did DVD ad inserts & digital inputs in famous tech magazines. In an interesting direct marketing initiative taken
by the brand, post cards were put as inserts along with the flight tickets. This way the tourist was able to relay the
story to the people back home.
Evaluation of the Communication Plan:
After undertaking the communication exercise there was an analysis done on the communication effectiveness.
The following were outcome from the study:
As far as the Travellers segment is concerned, although the spontaneous awareness of advertising
(Incredible India campaign) is low, the awareness increases sharply when aided (40%). The total awareness
is high in Middle East (49%), Continental Europe (50%), UK and Australia (39% each). This suggests that
the advertising awareness is latent and not top-of-mind as was desired.
Measuring the Advertising awareness among Trade partners, lower proportion of Trade partners recall
having seen the advertising (37%). Amongst the trade partners who were able to recall the advertising
campaign, 53% mention that the advertising has not had any effect in generating interest in India as a
The Travellers get their destination awareness from – Press and TV. The Recent Travellers also mention
websites (other than the official websites), airports and brochures as key sources of awareness. The mention
of official website as a source of awareness is negligible.
The “TajMahal” is the predominant element from the campaign, getting a maximum recall (34%). This holds
true amongst the „Recent Travellers‟ as well. Although the advertising is communicating the message of
India being a destination steeped in history, culture and offering „lots to see and do‟, there is no specifics that
the travellers are able to associate with the „plenty‟ aspect of the destination.
The advertising effectiveness in generating interest has been moderate. 44% of the travellers report that they
were positively pre-disposed to visit India upon seeing the communication.
India has a very „distinct‟ image with associations like – Palaces and Royal Retreats, Places of religious
interests, Yoga, Ayurveda and meditation, Heritage and artefacts etc. In comparison to competing Asian
destinations, China and Thailand have strong mentions with „Cultural Diversity‟. Singapore and Hong Kong
are considered to be safe and secure destinations.
Glimpse of Ad spends by Incredible India in the Domestice Market (India)
Spends Rs. Mn
After the disaster that struck India, there has been no signs of ad spends going down in the domestic market
Period (Rs. Mn)
The disaster struck India in 2004, if we look at
the ad spends by Incredible India! It shows a
The momentum is carried on till 2006, 2007
saw a dip in spends
There is a rise in spends again in 2008