Known more for the monuments, heritage and culture, India is not one of the foremost destinations as far as sports tourism is concerned. In a bid to explore this aspect and take the Incredible India campaign a step further, the Ministry of Tourism had given its nod to European sports channel Eurosport in June 2009 to shoot a special show, ‘Sports Trip’, in India.
‘Sports Trip’ is a globetrotting format looking at local sports and sporting hot-spots around the world. Following the Ministry nod, Eurosport had sent a crew to India to produce a programme on sports and Indian culture. The total production related cost has been pegged at around $200,000, whereas the air time is around $680,000.
Mediascope Publicitas, one of India’s largest international media representation houses and also one of the largest custom media specialists in the country, is the exclusive media sales partners to Eurosport in India. Mediascope Publicitas is said to have had introduced the medium to the Ministry of Tourism and convinced them on the need to use the appeal of sports in Europe to Incredible India’s advantage. The company is also said to have convinced Eurosport to invest in the Incredible India partnership.
In an email interaction, Marzban Patel, CEO, Mediascope Publicitas India, said, “The purpose is to highlight sports tourism opportunities in India. This initiative will go a long way in exposing India to the European nations, enticing millions to visit, participate and indulge in different experiences. This is a first effort for India by Eurosport and is in support of a focused communication programme initiated by the Ministry of Tourism. It is an attempt to expose India’s varied tourism facilities other than cultural, heritage, medical to a European audience through the European sports channel. We are very pleased with the results and are currently in dialogue with other Indian companies to take advantage of the power of the medium, both TV and digital.”
India as a sports tourism destination
How has this initiative helped attract tourists to the country? Leena Nandan, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, explained, “The tourism industry stakeholders were quick to make use of our marketing initiatives and have been promoting sports tourism. The tour operators had also been organising Golf Tours, etc. We hope the interest in diving and traditional sports will also grow with the show ‘Sports Trip’ going on air. Besides this, the Ministry of Tourism has also produced television commercials on Skiing in Gulmarg (Kashmir) and diving in the Andaman Islands. We have also been showcasing rural sports. In terms of the immediate inflow of tourists, it is too early to know that as the show has just gone on air. However, we hope that this show will position India as a sports tourism destination.”
Role of sports marketing
On the role of sports/ sports marketing in driving tourism, Nandan explained, “India may not be seen as a sports tourism market in a purist sense as compared to America. But it is a country where promotions are in huge demand. They could be sports-led or entertainment-led. I am using the term promotions in a broad sense, which means selling your product, enhancing visibility. In India, companies see buying a banner as just that, when it is much more. It represents visibility. Sport engages people like no other genre. There is an emotional intensity and high level of focus while involved with sports. It maintains people’s attention and allows them to escape into another world. Hence, it can be used as a medium to attract travelers who are on the lookout to escape, relax and enjoy adventure.”
‘Sport Trip’ is a five-edition series telecast on Eurosport, which takes an in-depth look at some of India’s sports in the most treasured unknown areas. It covers not just cricket, but has brought to viewers golf in Delhi, yoga, martial arts, etc. All these shows have already been aired, for instance, Cricket on May 30, Golf on June 6, Diving on June 13, Kalariyapattu (a martial arts form from Kerala) on June 20, and Yoga on June 27. The series, which started airing on EuroSports from early June 2009 during the evening primetime slot on Saturdays, will continue till July 2009.