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This article is written by Buddhisagar Kulkarni pursuing a Diploma in Business Laws for In-House Counsels from Lawsikho.


In today’s world, most of the products or services that we use are protected by Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs). It benefits us in every way. It rewards creators for turning ideas into products or services that we can use and thereby enriching us and the world, from creating advanced versions of mobile phones to more fuel-efficient automobiles.

Intellectual property (IP) is a major driving force in our world. It improves our lives, develops our economies, and preserves our planet by ensuring that new, high-quality innovations are developed across society continuously. IP is used to advance the work of everyone from a scientist in a laboratory to a creator in his garage dreaming up the next big invention.

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IP makes our lives productive and filled with fun. The cell phone in our pocket is becoming more advanced each year since IP motivates investment in new creations. Nowadays everything from books, music to movies is driven by innovations in technology and has become available in digital formats. So, without IP, we could lose them.

In this article, we will analyze the role of IPRs in enhancing competitiveness in the tourism industry. 

Intellectual Property Rights 

IPRs are the rights that refers to the creation of minds. Usually, for a certain time, they give the creator an exclusive right to use their creativity.

If you work in the tourism industry in any capacity, the IP system – such as trademarks, geographical indications, copyright, designs, or patents – may be beneficial for the following:

  • To create a distinctive market identity, 
  • To safeguard your competitive benefit, 
  • To promote national culture and heritage, or
  • To add an income source.

Role of IPR in Tourism Industry

The tourism industry has undergone steady expansion in the service sector, as it has been highlighted as an important contributor to Trade and Development by the World Tourism Organization. Tourism, it claims, has become a key factor in worldwide business while also serving as a major source of income for many developing nations.

The elements of the IP system have a wide range of applications in the tourism industry. Generally, developing and utilizing brands is especially relevant to the service sector, and thus to the tourism industry. Trademarks, geographical indications, certified marks, collective marks, or a sui generis system, or industrial designs, and also other IPRs including patents, copyrights, and trade secrets, are essential to building and exploiting a brand. All IP legal rights that offer an exclusive right of usage and the ability to prevent illegal third parties from profiting from that right are extremely beneficial to the tourism industry.

The rules are no longer what they once were. Competition is fierce, and the knowledge-based economy rewards those that recognise the potential of intangible assets in differentiating and offering value to the goods. IP system provides a framework and means for protecting, maintaining, monetizing, and enforcing intangible assets.

Use of Trademarks in the Tourism Industry

Branding is a means of communication that links a product to a specific merchant in the minds of potential customers. Branding makes products more appealing to the target audience. Trademarks are legally protected marks used in branding. Destination branding is very popular in the tourism industry and can be studied from a trademark standpoint. 

To take advantage of a trademark, it should be registered regionally, nationally, or internationally, depending on the situation. This registered branding aids in the protection of the destination as well as its goods and services.

Certification marks and collective marks can also help the tourism industry. The Green Globe Certification programme encourages efficient and sustainable practices in the travel and tourism industry. A product with these certifications will have a higher level of appeal.

All of these accreditations and collective marks are part of a larger branding system that boosts the destination’s and industry’s competitiveness both individually and collectively. The only requirement is to register under the Trademarks scheme to obtain legal protection.

Use of Geographical Indications in the Tourism Industry

Small businesses can achieve a competitive edge when their products bear a mark indicating the qualities of a geographical origin. With the reputation of the Geographical Indication (GI), tourism products will be effectively marketed.

GI has an enormous future in a country like India. So far, 326 products, including Kancheepuram silk saree, Alphonso Mango, Nagpur Orange, and Kolhapuri Chappal, have been registered as GIs.

Many products have already been registered as GI, as can be seen. However, simply registering is not enough. To reap the full benefits of GI, the product must be properly marketed and safeguarded. Furthermore, for a country like India, with its multiculturalism, traditional practices, and skills, the scope of GI is vast if properly applied. 

As a result, GI registration should be followed by appropriate protection and marketing techniques. GI can also benefit the tourism industry because the area will be predicted in terms of its credibility as well as the product attracting tourists.

Use of Copyrights in the Tourism Industry

Tourism also entails many people’s artistic works, which must be safeguarded to achieve a competitive edge. Copyright protection is required for advertising materials such as websites, pamphlets, or any other material that provides information about the destination and the product or service. Any invention considered a “work” in the tourism sector should also be safeguarded to boost the industry’s competitiveness.

Importance of IP Regime in the Tourism Industry

All of the many tools of the IP regime that offer an exclusive claim of utilization and prevent illegal third parties from profiting from that right are extremely beneficial to the tourism industry.

Branding has increasingly expanded beyond consumer goods and services to include travel destinations. This is commonly referred to as ‘destination branding.’ A trademark, whether in the form of a registered logo or slogan, is at the heart of “destination branding.” As previously stated, branding is more than just a registered logo or slogan, but it is its foundation. Creating a sophisticated logo or a memorable slogan is also insufficient for trademark reasons. They should, ideally, be registered nationally and internationally.

The Swiss Mountain resort of St. Moritz was among the first to register the name “St Moritz” and also the slogan “Top of the World,” not just in Switzerland but also with the Office of Harmonization for the Internal Market at the European Community’s Trademark Office.

The above trademark has effectively captured the hearts and minds of thousands of people who see New York through this symbol as a spunky, vibrant, and dynamic city with something for everyone.

Tri-valley California trademark is owned by the Tri-Valley Visitor and Convention Bureau portraying the area of three neighbouring valleys – Amador, Livermore, and San Ramon and is made up of five communities.

Malaysia’s impressive symbol the ‘Malaysia-Truly Asia’ commercial, which conveys and describes the country’s unique diversity, has gained enormous popularity. It encapsulates Malaysia’s uniqueness and allure, which make it an exceptional tourist destination.

The IP framework offers a variety of liberties that can be implemented in the tourism industry and help to create or strengthen the umbrella brand. Trademarks, certificate marks, collective marks, and geographical indications are examples of these.

The Australian government owns this registered trademark and permits external parties to use it on Australian goods and services following the legal criteria, which are particularly accompanied by the “TM Trade Mark of Tourism Australia.”

A location is also recognised for its different goods that arise in and are unique to a nation or area and have certain credibility and reliability as a result of their place of origin. Geographical Indication (GI) is a sign or mark on these products that specify their source. Geographical Indications and appellations increase tourism in addition to encouraging business.

Some of the famous GIs include:

  • Café de Colombia (Colombia), 
  • Bordeaux wine (France), 
  • Kampot Pepper (Cambodia), 
  • Penja Pepper (Cameroon) and 
  • Scotch whisky (Scotland).

Incredible India Campaign

Incredible India began in 2002 as a promotional campaign by the Government of India to attract tourists and project India as a reliable tourist attraction.

The trademark ‘Incredible India’ is registered under the Trade Marks Act of 1999. The mark is also registered in Canada. The campaign focused on several aspects of Indian culture and history, such as yoga, spirituality, festivals, and monuments such as the Taj Mahal, among others. 

The initiative proved fruitful, resulting in a 16 per cent growth in tourism activity in its first year. The number of foreign tourists visiting India increased from 2.38 million in 2002 to 7.7 million in 2014.

Not only the Indian Government but also the governments of some of the country’s states have taken steps to promote their respective states as tourist destinations.

Kerala’s logo is India’s tourist “wonderchild” and is a registered trademark.

Gujarat state has registered the logo as a trademark under the Trade Marks Act of 1999. The campaign with the slogan ‘Khushboo Gujarat Ki’ by superstar Amitabh Bachchan has boosted tourism in Gujarat state.

Madhya Pradesh state has registered the logo as a trademark under the provision of the Trade Marks Act, 1999. The trademark employed by the state of Madhya Pradesh contains the trademark of the nation and can thus be viewed as an Umbrella Brand being used by the state to benefit from the good name of the trademark while also contributing to the enhancement of the nation’s trademark.

Case Study

We will look at two case studies that will shed light on how IPRs aid in the growth of tourism in the country.

Geographical indications as a way to develop tourism and revamping the Cambodian economy


  • A particularly fine variety of pepper has been grown and traded in the Cambodian province of Kampot since the 10th century, using ancient knowledge and skills. 
  • Conventionally, the area produced plenty of peppers annually, the majority of which were consumed locally.
  • However, in 2010, the Cambodian government tagged Kampot pepper as a geographical indication, lifting it to the status of a premium brand with export potential. 
  • As a result, pepper production began to increase, enhancing exports and attracting visitors from all over the globe to the area.

IP Value Addition

  • By registering Kampot pepper as a geographical indication, the Cambodian government ensured that only genuine pepper grown in Kampot Region could bear this reputable name. 
  • This enabled pepper producers to build and publicise their brand and product variety on a global scale. 
  • As manufacturing capacity grew, so did opportunities to develop tourism and develop new jobs for locals. 
  • More than 30,000 pepper plants are currently grown on the plantation.
  • The pepper farm has increased its market presence and now sells its products in stores, supermarkets, and hotels, and also online. 
  • It has also received broad appreciation and become a popular tourist attraction in Cambodia, providing visitors with the chance to experience traditional plantations in the Kampot region and learn about old recipes handed down through hundreds of years.

Increasing tourism potential in Sri Lanka through the use of a beverage trademark


  • Sri Lanka’s Dilmah tea company has successfully guarded the Dilmah trademark due to the high quality of its products, as well as its business practices. 
  • As a consequence, Dilmah tea has become one of the most popular teas on the globe. 
  • When customers see the Dilmah brand, they recognise that it is not only of the best quality but also ethically cultivated and processed in Sri Lanka, guaranteeing that earnings benefit the local people.

IP Value Addition

  • Dilmah has built on this success by converting four tea estate bungalows in central Sri Lanka into luxury guesthouses known as the Ceylon Tea Trails. 
  • This novel concept immerses visitors in daily life on a working tea estate and teaches them how to brew the perfect cup of tea. 
  • Ceylon Tea Trails received a TripAdvisor Travellers Choice award in 2011.
  • The Dilmah company is a good example of how to successfully use a trademark to turn reputation and quality into business opportunities in the tourism industry (in this case, accommodation and leisure experiences in rural areas).


IPRs are playing an important function in almost every business. IPRs are a very powerful tool and have the potential to reinforce competitiveness in the tourism sector. 

The tourism industry is becoming very competitive day by day. Efficient IP asset management enables tourism destinations and interested parties to create value for the goods, services, and tourism products they provide. It is also an important tool for distinguishing a destination from its rivals. Given the tourism industry’s importance as a key source of foreign exchange, it’s critical to safeguard the brands and other rights linked with it under the purview of IPRs.

It is critical to include IP techniques for local and regional tourist attractions in the national tourism plan and tourism strategy. Sports associations, event organisers, donors, sponsors, and television and media companies are all major participants in the organisation of sports and mega-events. All of these participants must be aware of the importance of developing and implementing sound IP plans to augment the benefits of these events for tourism development.




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