Social media is a powerful tool which if used effectively can prove to be the differentiating factor in promoting tourism in a big way in India. There are lot of picturesque places in the interiors of India which haven’t been explored yet and can emerge as the next go to destinations in India for foreigners as well as Indians. Many a times people plan to go to the historically significant destinations like Taj Mahal in Agra or Red Fort in New Delhi but can’t enjoy thoroughly because of the crowd. Things get difficult for families with small kids or elder people. It’s not that people have to go places of historical importance only and do know about picturesque interior locations in other parts of India but there too problems creep in other forms like lack of information. This lack of information is a big hindrance which limits people to explore new places as they don’t know about the hotels or guest houses or appropriate mode of transport to be used. This is where social media can play a big role in alleviating problems of such people.
Why social media can play big role? In past 10 years India has undergrown lot of changes in terms of internet and mobile phone usage. According to the data from Internet World Stats, worldwide average internet penetration is 34.3%, for Asia it is 27.5% and for India it is 11.4% (Source: http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats3.htm). India has third highest number of internet users after China and US (Source: http://www.internetworldstats.com/top20.htm). These numbers do look impressive at first glance but it is not so and number of internet users is going to increase in India in future considering its large population and increasing number of smartphone users. According to TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India), there were 164.81 million Internet subscribers at the end of March 2013 and of every eight internet users, seven users accessed internet from their mobile phones (Source: http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/internet/india-is-now-worlds-third-largest-internet-user-after-us-china/article5053115.ece). Most of these users access social networks through their mobile phones. Which makes social media an ideal platform to look for not just updates from friends but for information sharing and advertising. A user will find comments and recommendations from social media more reliable than the statements made in the advertisement. Now consider a situation where users are sharing their experiences about travel, places to visit and do’s/don’ts to be followed during travel on Facebook or Google+. If such experience and suggestions are good then over time it will be liked by other users and they would post comments which would help in enriching information. This will encourage users who benefitted from such content as well as other users to share their own experiences and suggestions. Because users accessing internet through mobile phones will have information on the go and they can always refer information available on social media during travel.
Countries like Japan and New Zealand have done a good job by using social media to promote social media as mentioned in the site, http://www.techinasia.com/how-to-promote-tourism-through-social-media/. While there always will be risk of negative publicity but if used effectively social media can change the tourism industry for good and especially in a developing country like India it will help in boosting economy by creating jobs and generating money. Hopefully, promoting tourism using social media will not just be a trend but a necessary channel of promoting tourism in India.