Ahead of General Elections 2019, the campaigns and vote gaining strategies are no new thing. The nominations are being filed and election campaigning is at its full swing but it seems that the travel operators and firms have also decided to do their part and earn some profit out of the political business.
The travel companies are offering the tourists to attend rallies and even have dinner with the politicians. The basic idea is to make them the part of the voting process so that they can urge people to vote
“When tourists attend rallies and see how hundreds and thousands of people gather there, it’s something very new for them,” says Manish Sharma, chairman of Election Tourism India.
Election Tourism India is a project by a private tour company based out of Ahmedabad in Gujarat, and which works with 35 tour operators across the country. Also the chairman of Gujarat Tourism Development Corporation, Manish says “As part of the election tour, our travelers can meet candidates in rural and regional areas, meet an election commission officials and party leaders, and interact with them.”
The first time this kind of model was tried by Sharma’s company in the elections of 2014. Around 5,200 people from countries including Germany, the UAE, Japan, Nepal, China, and France had signed up for his election-centric itineraries along with local sight-seeing and a peek into India’s culture, architecture, and heritage along with the political purpose.
The company doesn’t follow any particular party and is non-partisan, with leaders and rallies across parties making it to its agenda. But if a customer wants a customized itinerary focused on a single party, they can plan a trip especially for them as well.
Basically, it is a win-win situation for both of them. On one side it is beneficial for the politicians to have foreigners on board in their campaign as it might attract people and gather them votes. While on the other hand, tourists can get to see the largest democracy in action and sometimes and even ride with politicians.
Election Tourism offers several packages across India, especially in north India( Varanasi, Delhi, Jaipur, Lucknow) That might be because the Golden Triangle of India (Delhi-Agra-Jaipur) has always been a tourist trap, but now, a visit to the Taj Mahal can be followed up with “the most luscious dinner with the party officials,” as the website promises. Trips range from seven to eight days, and cost between USD 315-430.
The other travel companies are also coming with their offers for tourists to encourage people to vote before polling season begins.