It's shopping festival time, and you needn't pack for either Singapore or Dubai. An event management outfit, Thyme, is organising the first ever Delhi Diwali Shopping Festival from September 21 to October 21, 2006.
About 20 shopping centres and 10 malls across the National Capital Region are participating in this festival, and Thyme promises many events and entertainment activities as well across the city.
The primary idea is to get Delhiites together. "This year," says Deep Bajaj of Thyme, "we are looking at building recall value for the event and getting the city together during the festive season."
Attracting NRIs who visit Delhi just before Diwali is another goal, though a campaign to pull in others from overseas will be mounted only next year.
The festival will be dotted with about 25 events with artistes such as Jagjit Singh, Indian Ocean and many others. There will be rock shows and fashion shows, a jewellery festival, as well as a food exhibition among other events. And of course, prizes too.
"We are going to leverage the existing discounts that are offered during this period before Diwali. Discounts though will be similar across the city during the period," says Bajaj.
Incidentally, the pre-Diwali month accounts for some 30 per cent of white goods sales in Delhi. Thyme claims to be spending Rs 8 crore (Rs 80 million) on publicity and events, and expects overall sales of at least Rs 150 crore (Rs 1.5 billion) during the festival.
Internationally, cities like Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Dubai have managed to use shopping festivals as brand building opportunities.
Kenneth Lim, area director, Northern-Eastern India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Singapore Tourism Board, says that the Great Singapore Sale has positioned the city-state as a preferred shopping destination in the region and has also increased their visitor arrivals and tourism receipts.
Done well, the idea works. The 2006 Hong Kong Shopping Festival, which just got over on August 31 attracted industry-wide participation, with a record of more than 8,000 retail and dining outlets joining in. In 2005, the festival attracted 4.6 million visitors from June 25 to August 31, bringing in about HK$1.85 billion in spending.
Malaysia too has an annual Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival, directly supervised by the Prime Minister's office.
Sunirmol Ghosh, managing director, Indo-Asia Tours, lauds such efforts for their tourism spurring potential. Even if availability of rooms in the city during the festival is a problem, it could go a long way towards giving people a reason-to-visit.