A pitch for election tourism

In a democratic nation, the voice of the people serves as the cornerstone of governance. The upcoming Lok Sabha elections are poised to be historically significant, with an estimated 960 million voters and nearly 62 political parties contending for 543 seats. There’s also a growing interest in exploring the potential for commercialising it as a tourist attraction.

Initial pitch

Election tourism has a significant historical background, with its inception credited to the Ahmedabad-based firm, Election Tourism India, which pioneered the concept during the Gujarat assembly polls in 2012. Inspired by Mexico’s Poll Tourism of 2005, Chairman Manish Sharma introduced this innovative venture. Following a successful debut in Gujarat, the firm continued to thrive, notably during the 2014 and 2019 parliamentary elections.

According to data from Election Tourism India, approximately 8,000 tourists from the US, China, Nepal, UAE, Australia, Ukraine, Japan, Germany, and France visited India during the last parliamentary elections. These tourists hailed from diverse backgrounds such as students, journalists, researchers, women’s groups and enthusiasts of history and culture.

As part of the election tour, the firm organized visits to rallies held by rural and regional candidates, coupled with interactive sessions with political leaders, as part of their six-night, seven-day election tourism package. Tourists seized the opportunity to engage with election candidates, gaining insights into campaign strategies and election-related issues.

Beyond the electoral process, tourists also immersed themselves in India’s rich heritage, traditions and culture, enhancing their overall experience.

Election festival

Election tourism provides valuable insight into public sentiment regarding candidates and political parties. During elections political advocacy agencies get involved in shaping strategies for leaders and parties. These agencies offer detailed reports advising on which constituencies to contest, campaign locations, and message articulation, thus influencing the electoral landscape.

There are instances where electoral processes fail to fully reflect the will of the populace. This is often observed in the formation of alliances between political parties before and after elections, as well as in the trading of political favours. Yet, the show of democracy goes on.

The writer is Assistant Professor, NITTE School of Management, Bangalore

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