Dear Advisor Partners,
Back in early 2004, I was exhibiting at an adventure travel show focused on Asia. I was excited to see the India pavilion because a video promoting India tourism called, She is India, had just been released a few months prior. More importantly, India was rebuilding its tourism industry, much like it is today post-covid, and there was no snazzy Incredible India campaign or catchy slogans, only the Taj Mahal. That’s what made the She is India campaign so effective. The campaign introduced heli-skiing in the north, sailing on the backwaters in the south, and many other items in between that went past the Taj and even beyond the most well-known temples. For me, India was the door to my return to tourism from finance.
Fresh out of my Fortune 500 job that I no longer enjoyed, I spent a month in India trying to figure out my next step. It was here I would decide if I should re-enter tourism or remain out in the finance world. One of the main reasons I am here right now writing this is because I went back to India and saw everything beyond the Taj. Keep in mind, I have been going to India since I was a teenager, and back then it was as if the Taj Mahal or other famous structures were the only reason to visit India. Clearly, even Hollywood thought the same, as anyone who has seen the famous Bond movie, Octopussy, knows how geographically incorrect movies were when it came to India.
So, you could imagine my disappointment when I entered that trade show (and every other marketing event since) and saw that the Taj Mahal, while amazing, was still at the forefront. The interior parts of even the most well-known areas were being ignored, even though that was where the magic truly was. In the subsequent years, right until the early part of 2020, we had tremendous success in showcasing these small communities, even in popular states like Rajasthan, because we focused on the points in between the known cities, or on the lesser-known regions of the established tiger reserves. Each itinerary went further and further away from the well-known (and well worn) “Golden Triangle.” Some of my personal favorite, lesser traveled areas are in Tadoba and Nagarhole. When I share this opinion with even my closest friends, the confusion is evident. The more confused my friends get, the more excited I become about visiting that region!
Now, we are tasked with rebuilding India, again. We have an opportunity to do it differently, which doesn’t mean we skip the famous landmarks. Rather it means we infuse the lesser-known landmarks into our adventures and marry the known with the unknown. That’s just what we at Big Five are committed to do, starting with our new President’s Pick India program. Let’s see the Taj but not stop there. Let’s explore the real India, and rediscover what made her incredible in the first place. We can experience so much more…together.
Without India, I wouldn’t be sitting here. She is that powerful. Enjoy this week’s video.