India pitches upcoming election as tourism product

- A Monitor Desk Report 31 Mar, 2019 | 284 Views|-+
Dhaka: Tourists all over the world seem to be visiting India now during the country’s election period to experience the world’s biggest democracy, with about 900 million voters.

Amid the election fever in India, many foreign guests are coming to take an elephant ride to meet an election candidate or attend a political rally, considering these tourism activities.

The upcoming election is set to decide in April-May whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi gets a second term following his victory in 2014, and that gives the Indian tourism industry a different way to market the country.

Some Indian tour companies are courting international visitors with week-long ‘election tourism’ packages that would try to combine some traditional sightseeing with access to political campaigning.

The packages were first tested during the 2012 state elections in the Western state of Gujarat and have now mushroomed nationwide.

“The Indian election is like a festival,” Manish Sharma, Founder of Election Tourism India and Chairman of Gujarat Tourism Corporation Society, said.

Election campaigns and rallies in India can be spectacular in terms of scale, reflecting the power of fundraising for the state and national political parties.

Events and rallies headlined by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the head of his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, Amit Shah, and the opposition Congress party’s Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have generated a lot of interest, Sharma said.

The Ahmedabad-Gujarat based Election Tourism India, which works with more than 35 tour companies across India, has received nearly 3,500 bookings for election packages from outside India.

The packages consist of popular tourist destinations, political rallies and interactions with election candidates and other local politicians. The length of the election also provides tour operators with plenty of options since it takes more than five weeks for everyone to be able to vote.

The trips offered range from 5 to 8 days. They also offer visits to a wide variety of places.

The packages are not targeted to the average tourists. However, this new tourism product – ‘election tourism’ seems to be a big hit to those who are inclined in politics, such as political students, journalists and researchers.

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