That Goa has emerged to be a prime tourist destination by default and not by design was very lucidly highlighted at the knowledge session on “Marketing Fundamentals: Makeover for Band Goa” held on the Saturday at the International Travel Mart – Goa.
Experts giving various examples and very often quoting from the publicity material to promote tourism in Goa, pointed out that Brand Goa does not have an owner or custodian, does not have a colour or symbol, nor does it have a baseline or a tagline.
The ball was set rolling by Mehzad Mustaf who presented the findings of a research done in several countries covering many cities and regions with people who had visited Goa. Goa continues to be a land of sea and party and the real Goa with its myriad facets like eco-tourism in the hinterland, turtle nesting sites, heritage sites, etc. are not even heard of by most visitors, he said.
He also pointed out that the marketing of Goa is aimed at the young visitors with the theme of partying and fun times thereby alienating the family tourists who too can find places on interest in Goa provided they are marketed properly.
The fact that Goa is a well known name was revealed by the fact that there is merchandising on the name ranging from ‘Goa Chic’ crash helmets in Germany to ‘Goa Gutka’ in the country and even ‘Goa T-Shirts’ on the beaches.
V Sunil, of Wieden + Kennedy the company behind the ‘Incredible India’ campaign gave a taste of how Goa could be branded by showing video of Honda company that covered the various models and products of the company.
Just as the word ‘incredible’ along with the exclamation mark symbol set the ‘Incredible India’ brand, he said Goa too should look for a symbol and a word that would encapsulate its essence and opined that the ‘energy’ in Goa could be the catchword.
However, the most effective was Cajetan Vaz a branding consultant who right at the start set the agenda by stating “we have talked the talk now let us walk the talk”. In the first place he pointed out the disjoint in having two sites of Goa Tourism and GTDC for a small state like Goa and further gave various other instances like discordant colours, different symbols and even fonts for spelling Goa, all of which he said confuses visitors.
He questioned the promotion campaigns for Goa which give the impression of it being only a land of fun and frolic and asked whether this is the true image of Goa. “Is she giving Goa publicity or is Goa making her popular?” he asked with regards to the ambassador for Goa Tourism.
The experts were unanimous that Brand Goa has to be re-worked from scratch so that a cohesive and succulent image of Goa is presented to the world that will also erase the negative image of partying, drugs and other ills.
Abhijit Desai of Hexaware pointed out how modern technology could be utilized to establish Brand Goa more effectively and more dynamically. He suggested that walkthroughs be introduced on Goa sites rather than the archaic models of text appearing when an icon is selected. That Tourism Department and GTDC are woefully short on maintaining and updating their sites was quite evident.
Tourism Director admitted to all the flaws pointed out by the experts and sought to assure that they would be addressed. How it was not every convincing as instead of speaking of the challenges ahead to change the Brand Goa, he only gave lame excuses ranging from political situation, political interference and even financial constraints.