NEW DELHI: The Tourism Ministry is soon going to hire a public relations firm to boost the country's image and to promote it as a safe destination for foreign tourists, a senior official of the ministry said.
Tourism Ministry Secretary Rashmi Verma said that the ministry was speaking to stakeholders to finalise the RFP (Request for Proposal) document.
"We will hire a central public relations firm to promote India, to promote its various facets as well as show the world that India is a safe destination. Its job will be to give out positive message about India, sell positive stories. It will be a private firm with credentials to promote India internationally," Verma told PTI.
The ministry has also decided to go the whole hog for promotional activities globally, with the budget for the same being raised from Rs 400 crore in 2017-2018 to Rs 600 in 2018-2019.
"We have completely changed the way we looked at promotional activities. While earlier we concentrated on promoting tourism seasonally, now we are promoting India through the year. Instead of releasing generic advertisements, we are now focusing on themes," she said.
The ministry recently released an ad film focusing on yoga -- six more are to follow on ayurveda, Indian cuisines, culture and heritage, cruise tourism, eco and adventure tourism -- all made by acclaimed agencies for international markets.
Verma said a hub and spook model would now be adopted for its overseas operations and the ministry had decided to bring down the number of overseas offices from 14 to eight, thus focusing on specific markets.
"A hub will overlook the operation in the region.
We will have eight offices in key and emerging markets, and they will be supported by our marketing representatives and PR agencies.
We, in conjunction with Indian missions abroad, are in the process of appointing marketing representatives and local PR officials," she said.
Countries, where India tourism offices would remain, include the US, Germany, the UK, Dubai, Russia, China, Japan and Singapore.
The ministry would also focus in a big way in promoting the Buddhist circuit -- soon there would be a film on Buddhist areas of interest, a dedicated website for easy access of tourists for Buddhism related information and even a road show to promote it.
"As of now only 0.005 per cent tourists come to India who are interested in the Buddhist circuit despite Buddha having such a strong presence here.There is huge potential in it and we have to capitalise it," Verma said.