The Trumps, at home in India, say Howdy to the World: Those 36 hours were literaly playing as Brand Ambassadors for Indian tourism globally, creating an opportunity to market India!
As President Trump addressed the largest-ever gathering of his political career at the yet to be entirely constructed Motera Stadium, he fumbled to get the Indian names right. He gazed at his teleprompter, and then laughed sheepishly in self-admission of getting the pronunciations wrong. We knew then that meme-makers had found their treasure trove, and the internet was soon replete with such videos the next day, of course, all in good fun. Setting that innocuous gaffe aside, the recently concluded and the much-hyped visit by the Trumps has done untold good to the visibility of India, its cultural richness, and tourism icons.
You may debate the outcomes and quibble over the tangibles and intangibles. However, in the age of social media, the Trumps are perhaps one of its greatest influencers. President Donald Trump has over 73.3 million followers on Twitter, and his daughter Ivanka, a global celebrity in her own right, has upwards of 6 million Instagram followers.
Ivanka’s post of her picture with The Taj Mahal in the backdrop has, till now, received over 8,00,000 likes! Their posts on social media sites are endorsements, and there could be no better endorsement of the Taj Mahal. President Trump’s love for the Taj Mahal goes way back; now closed, one of his casinos in Atlantic City was called “the Trump Taj Mahal.”
YouTube videos posted by The White House on the presidential visit are overwhelmingly being received positively in the US. Countless Americans are expressing their admiration of the grandeur of the monument and have expressed their desire to visit India and sample its beauty.
Imagine the cost of hiring a PR and marketing firm to generate this kind of global buzz! All for a good cause!
The strategic and business contours of the visit are many and would need more time and perhaps the right place, we are talking Destination India and its tourist pull! From that perspective, there is no denying that tourism has been one of the primary beneficiaries of the whirlwind tour. Dancers and artisans representing diverse cultures of India welcomed the first family as the Air Force One touched down at Ahmedabad amid global media’s glares. The Indian charm offensive was in full display as people lined up across the 22-kilometer stretch, from the Ahmedabad airport to the Sabarmati Gandhi Ashram, to greet the Trumps. Giant billboards and cut-outs of President Trump and PM Modi dominated Ahmedabad’s landscape. The choice of venues for the first family’s visit, in the action-packed 36-hour tour, provided an excellent opportunity to exhibit India’s soft power.
Mahatma Gandhi continues to resonate globally and draws attention as a symbol of peace and tranquillity. But Gandhi’s India, and more specifically Gujarat, found favourable reviews and attention within India and indeed globally. The president and the first lady also visited the Raj Ghat and planted a sapling to commemorate their visit.
Then there was the 21-gun salute at the Rashtrapati Bhawan and a gala-dinner for the Trumps. With live broadcast, all of it was keenly lapped up by global audiences as India enamoured the USA with its warm embrace.
Optics is central to any bilateral relationship, for it sets the tone and underlines the degree of public commitment between the two nations. Purely from an optics point of view, tourism would have gained the most from the presidential visit.