Thomas Cook taps in to India’s vote bank to boost travel
Election Tourism' in India isn't only about foreigners watching the world's largest democratic exercise but also increasing the voter turnout. Thomas Cook's new 'Ghar Jao Vote Karo' campaign offers discounts to people who want to travel home in order to vote.
- The company is also offering further discounts post-election if customers show their inked fingers at one of the outlets.
Since India is divided into many states, the incidence of urban migration also means that a lot of people live in the state where they're not registered to vote since India doesn't allow citizens to vote remotely.
Thomas Cook's new 'Ghar Jao Vote Karo' sees this as an opportunity to tap into India's vote bank before the summer vacation kicks in.
In fact, in 2015, only 66.4% of eligible voters actually turned up to vote, according to the Election Commission of India (ECI).
Customers can get a discount of up to ₹1,000 on their flight tickets as long they can prove that they're going home to vote. And since it is right before India's largest vacation season, the company is offering more discounts on their domestic and international group tours if customers show their inked finger — proof that they've voted — at any of Thomas Cook's retail outlets.
Thomas Cook's data shows that most customers will probably end up extending their stay at home since a lot of the polling dates fall on Mondays or Thursdays. It's what the company calls a 'smart weekend holiday'.
World participation in the Indian elections
On the one hand, travel agencies are offering special discounts for domestic travel during the election season and, on the other hand, tour operators are launching special packages to reign in foreign tourists.
India's 'election tourism' follows from the already prevalent concept of 'poll tourism' in Mexico. Manish Sharma, the founder of Akshar Travels, first launched the project during the assembly polls in 2012 before a full-fledged roll out before the 2014 election where nearly 1,800 foreign tourists wanted to watch India's election process.
Now, nearly 20 tour operators are participating in India's election tourism with packages that range from ₹40,000 for six days to ₹150,000 for two weeks.
Hitank Shah, a national committee member of Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) told the Economic Times, that most of the tourists that visit India from other countries during the election season are young professionals and students who are curious to know how the Indian elections unfold.
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