Re-launch of the improved website likely this month

Former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru may have given this city its most famous tagline yet — ‘a window to French culture’. However, the view through the virtual window provided on the official website is too grainy to give visitors even an approximate sense of the diverse experience of beaches, backwaters and spiritual balm that the city offers.

Apart from offering a blinkered window-view, the website suffers from obsolescence of data, sketchy profiles of places to see, and most importantly, a lack of appeal. If the tourism goal is to grab more eyeballs in the West and generate more footfalls on Promenade Beach, the official website ends woefully short.

In fact, other websites that have evolved out of private enterprise such as Actupondy, with the simple French tagline ‘le guide de Pondicheri’, or Zoom Pondy are doing a much better job of showcasing the city experience.

The good news though is that the Tourism Department is planning a complete reworking of the website experience. The static feel is to be replaced by a dynamic version, the pages pepped up with attractive visuals of the city’s famed landmarks and ease of navigation to be improved.

“We are looking to re-launch the new and improved website this month,” said K.K. Singh, managing director, Puducherry Tourism Development Corporation.

The redesigned website promises to be a techno-savvy affair, replete with a mobile-compatible version, an interactive Mail Management System and an RSS feed.

Central to the redesign effort has been to keep ease of navigation a wholesome feature of the browsing experience. Though the website has an interactive Mail Management System, an exhaustive FAQ section will seek to pre-empt e-mail enquiries of a generic nature. “Specific timelines have been integrated into the Mail Management System so that a courtesy email on the pending status of their query is sent to registered users if the request for information is not addressed in a couple of days, and, at the same time, an alert is sent to a core team at the Tourism Department to expedite a response,” said Anthony Sagayam, manager-operations at Purple Swan.

The killer application, though, is the trip planning software that will allow users to add events they are interested into a bucket list — much the way one would add items to a shopping cart — and once they are done, the programme generates the best itinerary according to dates and distance between venues. This can be downloaded as a PDF file. “Depending on their duration of visit, this embedded feature will help tourists plan their travel dates to coincide with the events that they wish to attend,” said Shilendra Gupta of Purple Swan, the city-based agency tasked with the website redesign.

At a later stage, the website will have French and Hindi language options.

Chief Minister N. Rangasamy is expected to launch the redesigned website shortly. Sources say the two dates slotted for the re-launch is July 11 or 14 .

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