Tourism is one of the most neglected industries in India. And what’s more disappointing is that India is one of the most beautiful countries in the world with the most invaluable assets that very few countries have. We have dense and lush green forests, one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world, we do not have the disadvantage of extreme climatic conditions like Canada, and most importantly, regardless of.
Which month of the year it is, India always has a wonderful destination to serve the tourists. We have the Rann of Kutch and Goa for winter and spring, Manali for summer, Mahabaleshwar for monsoon, and countless other destinations for not just seasons, but every single month of the year. And the best part is that our greatest asset is not a super tall building or an amusement park. It lies in the natural ecosystem which cannot.
Be built, regardless of how much money you have. For example, you can build a Burj Khalifa with $1.5 billion, but you cannot build a 5000-year forest with a beautiful climate, right? But even then, if you look at the numbers, even Hong Kong, a country that is smaller than Delhi had 55 million foreign tourists in 2019. Whereas India, which is 2000 times bigger than Hong Kong had only 17.9 million foreign tourists.
But you know what guys, the small state of Kerala has been doing an incredible job with this tourism project. And in the past 20 years, the foreign tourists’ arrival in Kerala has shot up by 378% going from just 209,000 in 2000 to over a million arrivals in 2019. And at the same time, the earnings of the state from the foreign exchange have shot up from just Rs 416 Crores to Rs 10,271 Crores from 1999 to 2019. And this turned Kerala from an unknown.
Place to a world-famous destination. In 2000, the National Geographic Society declared Kerala as one of the top 10 paradises in India. The World Travel Tourism Council chose Kerala as a partner state and it even got named as one of the top 10 hotspots for the Millennium by the Emirates magazine. The question is, how did Kerala become such a popular place for tourism? How did the Kerala government achieve.
This exponential growth in revenue? And most importantly, what are the lessons that we need to learn from this iconic strategy? This video is brought to you by SLICE, but more on this at the end of the video. This is a story that dates back to early 1990s India. Back then, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had just opened up the economy because of which we had evaded an economic crisis by a whisker.
So just like today money is flooding into the startup ecosystem of India back then, since India was the biggest market after China, several companies rushed to India to set up their hubs in the wake of globalization. As a result, we saw the entry of giant foreign companies like Coca-Cola, Hyundai, and Nokia. This is how several industries started flourishing and the Indian middle class started to have more disposable income to spend.
But like I said before, despite having wonderful destinations, India as a country was not even close to being featured in the world’s top tourist destination. And the image of India was almost like modern-day Bangladesh, a fast-growing developing nation, but not so good for tourism. And this is when ladies and gentlemen, the Kerala tourism development corporation took this matter very, very seriously.
And they executed a marvelous project that did not just turn Kerala into an iconic destination, but change the very outlook of tourism in India. This strategy was so successful that in the next 10 years, the foreign tourists traffic shot up by 200%, the domestic tourist traffic shot up by 450% and Kerala began to be featured among the top 10 destinations in the world. The question is, what was so special about this strategy that it turned Kerala into a world-famous destination?.
The first pillar of this strategy was the marketing campaign to increase the brand recall value of Kerala. For those who don’t know, brand recall value is the percentage of individuals who can recollect your brand when a product or a service is mentioned. For example, when I say burger, what is the first brand that comes to your mind? When I say hair oil what is the first brand that comes to your mind?If you thought about McDonald’s,.
Burger King, or Parachute oil, it clearly states that these brands have a high recall value. Now in the case of tourism, creating a brand recall value is a little tricky, because most of the customers you are appealing to have never visited your destination. And yet you have to carefully curate your marketing campaign in such a way that when someone thinks about traveling to a particular place, your destination by default must be the obvious choice.
So the tourism team of Kerala picked three of the most unique and powerful attributes of Kerala. That are nature, Ayurveda, and culture. And they came out with a beautiful campaign called the God’s own country campaign. And just like the name implies, the campaign portrayed Kerala beautifully in billboards and videos all across the world. And for national publicity, they collaborated.
With Indian hotels to spread the message about Kerala all across the country. And within some time, Kerala achieved the brand recall value with its association with nature. Furthermore, because of this beautiful natural ecosystem, Kerala actually ended up owning the title of God’s own country. Now on the outside for some people, this might not sound like a big deal.
But I want to tell you guys that this entire campaign was not executed by a marketing agency like Ogilvy & Mather, who had world-class consultants, but by the government officials of Kerala who worked on a very tight budget. And most importantly, this was done during a time when there was no digital marketing, no social media, and no easy access to the internet. And this meant that the government officials had to figure out which countries to target without Google.
Analytics, they had to get an ad spend for billboards by talking to hundreds of people from across the world. They had to negotiate deals with hundreds of vendors from across the world. And then they had to strategically place their billboards in completely unknown countries just hoping to get a good return on investment. In short, this entire process required an insane amount of vision, strategy, dedication,.
And patience to get through the government bureaucracy and execute something so incredible. And the result turned out to be absolutely worth it. The foreign tourists traffic shot up by almost 200% going from just 69,000 visitors to 2.1 lakh visitors in 2000. The domestic tourists traffic shot up by 428% going from just 94891 to 5 million visitors in 2000. Now another astonishing thing to be noted over here is that, if you look at the numbers of increasing.
Visitors and the income generated by the state, you will see that although the number of foreign visitors increased by only 200%, the earnings of the state skyrocketed by 1700% going from just Rs 28.2 crores to Rs 525 crores from 1991 to 2000. So, the question over here is, how is there such a stark difference in the increase in traffic and the earnings? Well, this is what brings me to the second pillar of Kerala tourism and that is building.
Avenues of income by the ease of business. The reason why this was important was because, even if a lot of people came to Kerala, the state cannot just generate revenue simply by the number of visitors. They have to get people to spend on things so that they can generate revenue through taxes collected from those businesses.For example, if you visit Pune, although it is one of the best cities to live in, as a tourist at max you will spend on a five-star hotel, spend pennies on street.
Food, go to Imagica or visit Shaniwar Wada like places. So even if you decide to spend a lot of money, there are very less exclusive high ticket spends that you can make in Pune. Whereas in Kerala, you go to a wildlife sanctuary to visit, you can spend on boat rides, you can live in a boathouse, you can go for tea tasting, you can live in a treehouse, take a spice tour, indulge in Ayurveda sessions, which is extremely popular and.
Well marketed, and then spend on your stay and food. So if you see, these are all high ticket avenues that was built by the local businesses in Kerala. Now, this again requires very heavy expenditures and policy changes. And guess what, they started to roll out lucrative subsidies to promote business in Kerala and they actively took up the task of improving wayside facilities, both terminals, and jetties.
Apart from that, they built a great waste disposal system for the backwaters to make sure that the waters are clean and picturesque. This was followed by improving other basic infrastructure projects like roads, and wayside facilities. All of these projects were executed to achieve a return on investment for the state in the next 10 to 20 years. This was the long-term thinking that the government officials had for the state of Kerala.
And this is clearly reflected in the numbers. If you look at the number of hotels in 1990, there were only 565 hotels that started in Kerala. But in the next 10 years, this number doubled to 1222 and kept doubling for the next 10 years again. Similarly, the number of restaurants opened in Kerala were only 1098 from 1986 to 1991. But this number shot up by almost 200% to 3111 restaurants between 1996 to 2000.
And it again rose by 200% to 8467 from 2006 to 2010. And just like this, every other business from Ayurveda to boat riding started flourishing in Kerala to create new avenues of business. This is a reason why tourism started flourishing in Kerala as more and more businesses started operating. In fact, in a stat that I saw from the Department of Tourism of Kerala, because of the increase in the number of hotels and marketing, there was.
A sudden increase of 219% in domestic tourists in 1995, which then kept growing even further. This is the reason why the income generated by tourism in Kerala shot up by 1700%, in spite of the foreign visitors increasing by only 200%. And then comes the last pillar of Kerala’s massive growth and that is the evolution of the project with time. Now, people, I don’t know if you realize this, but then one of the biggest reasons why corporate.
Companies function way better than government bodies is because of the changing leadership of the entities. When there is a CEO change, the intent of the new CEO is usually to follow the footsteps of the former leader and make the organization even better. This is what leads to constructive development. But in the government, it’s about how to demolish everything that the former leader has built so that I can claim credit for the initiatives.
This is what leads to destructive development. But surprisingly, in spite of the government constantly transitioning between the Congress and the Communist Party of India, the tourism of Kerala has always been progressive, and the development has hardly ever slowed down. This is clearly evident in the progressive steps that they’ve taken with time, just like a corporate does. For example, the tourism department found out that India.
Was not considered to be a safe place, thieves often used to steal luggage and they used to loot the tourists. So as soon as the Kerala tourism department understood this problem, they came up with an innovative comprehensive insurance package for tourists in association with United India Insurance Limited. This scheme compensated tourists for any accidents occurring during the period of their stay if they stayed in any one of the KTDC’s six.
Premium properties for a minimum of three nights. Apart from that various schemes such as the personal accident scheme, medical expense scheme, baggage cover scheme, and even a loss of passport scheme was introduced, just so that the tourists feel secured about their trip to Kerala. The second example of the strategic evolution of their marketing campaign can also be seen from their YouTube channel.
I was shocked to see that Kerala tourism already started posting on YouTube from 2009 itself. Now they have 244K subscribers and time and again, they give the God’s own country campaign a fresh outlook to keep up with the trend and to maintain Kerala’s brand recall value. In fact, as soon as the pandemic started fading away, Kerala heavily spent on YouTube content creation because of which their top two videos.
Have already crossed 7 million views each. And now they are posting one content every single day. This is the reason why people from all across the world flocked to Kerala. And undoubtedly, the Government of Kerala has done an incredible job with the sheer capitalistic approach to establish a world-class benchmark for others to follow. Now, this brings me to the most important part of the episode and that is, as entrepreneurs and future.
Leaders of this country, what are the lessons that we need to learn from Kerala’s tourism case study. Meanwhile, if you are planning to take a trip to Kerala or any other destination in India, you can use the SLICE card to pay your bills. SLICE is a card that helps you slice your bill into three halves without any charge. Plus, it gives you up to 2% cashback on every transaction which then converts to real money.You.
Get a credit limit of up to 10 lakh rupees along with daily, weekly, and monthly offers from Amazon, Swiggy, Myntra, Zomato, and many more. The best part is that there is no hidden fee, no brokerage fee, no annual fee on the SLICE card. Using the SLICE card will not only help you build your credit score but also track your transactions in real-time with the SLICE passbook.I’ll be using my SLICE card for my upcoming trip to Manali.
And if you also want to use the SLICE card, do check it out from the link in the description. Moving on, there are three lessons that we need to learn from the iconic case study of Kerala. Lesson number one, it really doesn’t matter how good your product or service is unless you know how to spread the word about it. In this case, like I said, on paper India has so many destinations for tourism, that the tourism industry.
Should have been a perennial source of income for India. And yet, unlike Kerala, we do not have a capitalistic approach towards tourism because of which we are losing millions of dollars in revenue with each passing year. And small businesses that could have generated a ton of money at tourist destinations are still making only a fraction of what they could have made if we had foreign visitors. Lesson number two, in tourism marketing, is only.
Half a job is done, what you have to do further is build a solid backend system to generate revenue and to extract the most out of your assets. In this case, the government of Kerala was proactive enough to build a sustainable ecosystem for businesses, because of which they saw a drastic increase in their revenue, eventually generating more taxes. And lastly, if you’re a government body, you can either treat your people as voters or as customers.
If you treat them as voters, you will care about their votes, and then you will clip about bureaucracy. But if you choose to treat them as your customers, you will use your massive power and resources to eventually earn both, their taxes and their votes. And this, my dear friends, is what we call as conscious and strategic capitalism at its best. In this case, it was the proactiveness of the Kerala government to introduce insurance schemes.
To invest hundreds of crores into fixing the jetties, to fixing the waste disposal system. And lastly, their ability to stay ahead of the curve with modern tools like YouTube and social media marketing. That’s all from my side for today guys, if you learn something valuable, please make sure to the like button in order to make YouTube baba happy. And for more such insightful business and political case studies, please subscribe to our weekly newsletter.