Incredible India has done it again! Another international award for the campaign — showcasing major holiday destinations — has given a fillip to Brand India and is expected to pull in global tourists in times of recession.

Tourism Minister Kumari Selja had reason to cheer when she picked up the 21st Grand Prix Award in Vienna in Austria last week amid thunderous applause from an international audience that saw the two —minute television commercial.

“The campaign has generated huge interest about Indian tourism products globally and contributed significantly to the growth of tourism in India,” she said.

The award — the most prestigious international award that stands for encouraging global tourism through the audio-visual media — was given by the International Tourism Film Festival, an initiative of the Vienna—based “Comite International des Festivals du Film Touristique” (CIFFT).

“We never tire of telling the world that Indians treat their guests like gods. However, for those Europeans who don’t like references to god I would like to repeat that guests are treated with great respect in India,” Ms. Selja told IANS after receiving the award.

The Incredible India campaign, which appeared during the Oscar, Grammy and BAFTA award functions, has already yielded results at a time when the tourism sector is reeling under the impact of the economic slowdown and 26/11 terror attacks.

“The good news is that tourism-related activities have fallen by seven percent worldwide due to recession but in India only by two percent,” Ms. Selja said.

“After winning a series of international awards at Berlin, Poland, Romania, France, Portugal, the Czech Republic and Croatia, the film has now been honoured with this prestigious Grand Prix award,” she added.

The Incredible India campaign is also being shown on major European channels to attract the world’s eye. The advertisement also appears in the in-flight magazines of all major international carriers.

The first five months of 2009 showed a sharp decline in the number of foreign tourist arrivals in the country, compared to the same period in 2008. But from the second half of this year there has been an increase.

In October, about 448,000 tourists visited India as compared to 453,000 in the same period. The figure was 445,000 in October 2007.

About 5.36 million foreign tourists visited India in 2008.

Gour Kanjilal, executive director of the Indian Association of Tour Operators, said: “Earlier, our campaign was generic, barely touching the surface. Now, it is more thematic and focussed. Winning the award will make an impact.”

He said the uniqueness of the campaign is that it promotes varied products — from Green Northeast, Trekking in the Himalayas to Footsteps of the Buddha and the festivals of India.

“With the Incredible India campaign, the Western audience has been able to identify Brand India,” Mr. Kanjilal told IANS, adding that most Asian countries have created a brand around their products like Amazing Thailand, Clean Singapore and Malaysia — Truly Asia.

“Earlier, each state would sell their own products that would confuse the tourists more. Now, the message is loud and clear,” Mr. Kanjilal said.

Matthias Krenn, vice president of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce, said: “Today India is considered a light house in the ocean not only by Austria but worldwide.”

Josef Shutz, CIFFT president, said: “The best films are those that show not just beautiful landscapes but people enjoying life in such a way that it arouses envy in the viewer who longs to visit the same place and live life in the same way as shown on the screen.”

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