This article is written by Nehal Wagle, here the author has discussed on destination branding with reference to IPR.


Today due to faster communication and transport the world has become a smaller place. As a result, countries all over the world are busy competing with one another in each and every industry then be it Healthcare, Fashion, Food, Information Technology, Accounting, Financial services, Automobiles and so on. Tourism industry has no dearth of competition. 

The tourism industry today is one of the fastest growing in the services sector, surpassing even the major industries in the world like oil, automobiles and food. It has now turned into one of the greatest source of foreign exchange earnings for many countries.

In order to attract more and more tourists, destinations across the world have begun registering brands in relation to the special attributes possessed by the places under the title of Destination Branding. The main motive behind developing a brand is to create an image in the minds of a prospective tourist by highlighting the exclusivity of the places which in turn is expected to give a major boost to the economy of a nation.

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What is a brand?

Brand is a symbol, mark, logo, name, word and/or sentence that is used by the proprietor to distinguish his product from those of others. A combination of one or more of those elements can be utilized to create a brand identity. There are even agencies which specialise in branding Legal protection given to a brand name is called a trademark. (1)

What is Destination Branding?

Destination Branding is a relatively new concept in the tourism Industry, with its core in Intellectual Property Rights in the form of trademarks. There could also be collective marks, certification marks, sui generis, geographical indications all of which individually and collectively contribute to strengthen the umbrella brand.

Destination Branding involves registration of a logo or tagline that is uniquely connected with a particular place and involves highlighting its special attributes. It helps to form a dynamic relation between the product (here destination) and the consumers (here tourist), by developing a sense of faith with regards to the experience they will receive or a sense of satisfaction they would feel on visiting the places. 

Many places around the world, realising the importance of differentiating themselves from others have developed their own destination brands to attract more and more tourist.

Let us now check a few Destination Brands across the world.

  • St. Moritz- Switzerland

It is one of the oldest logos in the tourism Industry to get registered as early as in 1930. Since then the name St. Moritz name and logo has represented the place as a winter holiday destination. Four versions of the sun in the logo were registered in 1937, whereas the name St. Moritz was registered in 1986 making it one of the earliest Geographical location to be registered as a Trademark  (2). The name St. Moritz along with the tagline “Top of the world” is not only registered in Switzerland but also in the Office of Harmonization for the Internal Market, the Trademark Office of the European Community.(3)

  • Malaysia- Truly Asia 


The worldwide campaigning launched by Malaysia under the logo and tagline in 1999 went on to be a huge success for the country as it went on to attract millions of tourist across the world thereby generating great revenues for the country.

  • Australia

This registered trademark “Tourism Australia” is owned by the Government of Australia and it permits third parties to apply the mark in relation to the goods and services along with the indications as provided in the guidelines published by the government, followed with “™ Trade Mark of Tourism Australia”. Every applicant desired of using the mark is required to ensure that the mark is not used in a manner which is likely to be detrimental to the interest of the Tourism of Australia. 

Such a brand helps to unify all services and products relating in the tourism sector belonging to an area under one roof, thereby allowing the third parties to reap benefits from the reputation of the Trademark.

  • I love NY logo

new york destination

This logo was invented by Milton Glaser and was first use since 1977. The logo was basically used in an advertising campaigning which was undertaken to give a boost to tourism Industry in the area. Since then it has been successful by drawing attention of the people all over the world.

  • 100% Pure- New Zealand

destination branding

With an aim of building a strong brand in the tourism sector New Zealand came up with this logo along with a tagline 100% pure in the year 1999. The campaign advertised through visuals on televisions and print media showcasing the beauty of the nation. 100% Pure New Zealand logo depicts the story of the country’s unique combination of landscapes, people and activities which cannot be found anywhere else in the world and hence it is a “100% Pure New Zealand” visitor experience.

Over time, it has been extended to include-100% Pure Relaxation, 100% Pure Adrenalin, 100% Pure You and 100% Middle-earth – all connected back to the core premise of 100% Pure New Zealand. In 2012 New Zealand was named to have the best destination campaign at the World Travel Awards in 2012. (4) 

Destination Branding and its Relation to Intellectual Property Rights

It is important to note here that the extent of Destination Branding is not only restricted to fancy logos and taglines. There are several other factors that contribute in establishing a successful Destination Brand. These factors can be assured protection through various mechanisms available under Intellectual Property Rights like-


In relation to Destination Branding trademarks form the most important Intellectual Property Right. As discussed earlier, Destination Branding find its place under the umbrella of trademarks. Trademarks refer to any sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from that of other.

Such a mark may consist of letter, numbers, lines, Colours, shape, smell that may be either two dimensional or three dimensional. 

It has often been observed that the two terms – trademarks and branding are used interchangeably; however, it is necessary to understand that these terms are not same. Branding is a marketing term which encompasses within itself a series of concepts with various Intellectual Property Rights, specially trademarks. A brand is a larger and more amorphous concept being a crucial communication tool whereas trademarks are a legal concept with unambiguous legal definitions.

Another category of Trademarks, are-

  • The Collective marks 

They are signs which distinguish between the products and services of members belonging to one association from those of another, on grounds of the geographical origin, material, mode of manufacture or any other characteristics in relation to goods or services. The main function of Collective Mark is to familiarise the public with the special attributes possessed by the product in relation to which the collective mark has been used. (5)

  • The Certification Marks

These marks can be used in relation to good and services upon compliance with certain defined standards. There are several profit and non profit organisations that allow enterprises to use such marks certifying compliance in accordance with the criteria set by them. One such example of mark used in relation to tourism sector is the International Eco Certification Program. This program provide assurance to the travellers that the products (accommodation, attractions, tours etc.) are backed by strong, well managed and committed sustainable practices and provide the customers with high level of quality nature based tourism. (6)

Geographical Indications

A destination is also known for the variety of products that originate and are attached to a country or region and possess certain attributes and reputation in connection to a geographical origin. Geographical Indication today has turned out to be the major player in strengthening tourism in rural areas where agriculture is the primary occupation. They  may either survive under the umbrella brand applicable to the entire region or may even be an independent brand which can be said to be a destination brand (7).

Geographical Indications and appellations apart from facilitating business, also tend to attract tourists. One such example can be that of a leading geographical indication (known as an appellation of origin) know as Bordeaux wine from Bordeaux region of France. This vinegary is a major tourist destination. These vineries conduct vine tours, arrange for accommodations, host vine festivals and so on which play an important role in attracting tourist and thereby facilitating growth in tourism industry.


Design, though one of the important forms of Intellectual Property Right does not form a crucial part in the tourism Industry. However, it may be used in relation to merchandise products like handicrafts.


Creative contents like guidebooks, pamphlets, photographs, audio-video, songs, advertisements, websites, performances conducted in relation to promotion of Destination Branding will attract protection under Copyright Law.

Trade Secrets

Trade Secrets refer to any confidential business information which provides an enterprise a competitive edge may be considered a trade secret. Trade secrets encompass manufacturing or industrial secrets and commercial secrets. (8) 

Confidential Information forms the basis of any business. Loss of any of the confidential information in highly competitive industry like Tourism Industry may result in gain for the competitors.

Destination Branding in Tourism Industry with reference to India

The Tourism Industry in India has been booming the last few years. As per statistics conducted by the Department of Tourism- Government of India of India in year 2018, India has achieved annual growth of INR 1,77,874 Crores. Tourism Industry is one of the most important Foreign exchange earner Industry in India. (9) Tourism Industry has contributed nearly 10% to country`s GDP (10). In India there are different kinds of Tourism namely, 

  • Leisure Tourism
  • Medical Tourism
  • Pilgrimage Tourism
  • Adventure Tourism
  • Eco Tourism
  • Ayurveda and Yoga Tourism
  • Business Tourism
  • Heritage Tourism

‘Branding’ in the Tourism Industry has contributed to vast growth of Tourism Industry. Formulation of Destination Branding is a strategic process that involves in depth study of various factors like the geographical location, culture, customs, norms and so on. Several efforts have been made since then in the arena. One such successful campaign was launched by the Government of India, titled Incredible India. 

The Incredible India campaign was introduced in the year 2002 by ad agency Ogilvy, which changed the face of India to a high-end tourist destination in the world. This Ministry of Tourism- Government of India developed a new avatar for the campaign with a view of boosting the growth of Industry. Unlike the first campaign, where the emphasis was only on the tourist spots across the country, the campaign 2.0 launched recently, advertises the destination from the perspective of an individual. In addition to this campaign, the Government of India also launched “Adopt a Heritage” project which aims to encourage people to actively participate in maintenance and preservation of historical heritage sites. (11)

Incredible India has been one of the most successful campaigns undertaken by Government of India. 

Some of the Important Destination Brands have been listed below-

  • Kerala- Gods Own Country

Kerala is one of the high-end tourist destinations in India. Through the logo and the tagline, the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) advertised the destination as a place to be by marketing every facet of the state from villages to cities to backwaters, wildlife, food, heritage and even centuries old tradition of ‘healing methods’ through Ayurveda.

This destination brand brought about a considerable growth in the state of Kerala and proved to be a great inspiration for rest of the states in India to develop their own destination brands and marketing strategies.

  • Madhya Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh tourism logo represents “Tiger” as it the state is famous for five famous tiger reserves in the country namely- Kanha, Pench, Bandhavgarh, Panna & Satpura Tiger reserve. The state is famously known as the “Land of Tigers”.

  • Uttrakhand – simply Heaven!

The Uttarakhand tourism logo comprises of of one letter in the devanagri script “U ()” which possesess three different colors with meaning- Blue: Representing the mighty Mountains (Himalayas) and the water,

Green: represents flora and fauna, and

Saffron: represents religious importanceof the state

Intellectual Property Rights and Destination Branding in India

Legal Protection to the Destination Brands in India is south under the following Intellectual Property Acts-

Particulars Regulating Laws
Logos, Taglines, certification marks and collective marks Trademarks Act,1999
Advertisements, Soundtracks, pamphlets, brochure, websites, performances and so on Copyright Act,1957
Products originating from specific geographical location possessing attributes to the place of its origin Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act,1999
Trade Secrets associated with Destination branding for example- method of manufacture or know how No specific statute. Though protection is available under various statutes like-

  • The Contract Act,1872
  • Copyright Act,1957 
  • Information Technology Act,2000
  • Principles of Equity
  • Common law action for breach of Confidence
Designs in relation to merchandised products like handicrafts The Designs Act,2000


Challenges to Destination Branding

  • Political instability and internal disturbances

The standard definition of political instability is the propensity of a government collapse either because of conflicts or rampant competition between various political parties (12). Political Instability has a devastating effect on the tourism industry. One such example could be the drop in the tourism Industry in the State Of Jammu and Kashmir (India). Tourism Industry is one of the major assets of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. However, the political instability and internal disturbances (like insurgency, terrorist attacks etc) over the past few years has resulted in a sharp decline of tourism. In such cases the importance of destination branding is lost altogether.

  • External Environment

External factors like wars have a tremendous impact on the tourism Industry. For example, the Gulf war left a terrible impact on tourism in middle eastern countries.

  • No Strategic co-ordination

A successful destination brand requires joint efforts on the part of the government authorities, the promoters and the people. Lack of co-ordination between the important pillars of the destination branding affects the tourism considerably.

  • Lack of Exclusivity

A brand lacking exclusivity is more likely to fail. Exclusivity is the very essence of the Destination Branding. In order to attract tourist, a brand must be unique to the extent that it must be capable of creating a distinctive image in the minds of people in relation to a particular destination. 

  • Too much reliance on advertising

Advertising is the initial stage in promotion of destination branding. However too much of advertising without taking any concrete steps for development of the destination, defeats the very purpose of branding.

  • Destination Product

Failure to realise the importance of relationship between a destination product and destination branding is a major challenge in sustainability of destination branding. 

  • Short Term planning

Development of a Destination branding involves a series of slow and continuous efforts. Short term development plans instead of proving to be boon in development hamper the very progress of the place.

  • Ignorance in maintaining a brand

Maintaining the brand is the most difficult task as compared to developing a brand. Initial investments to develop the brand is without taking efforts for its maintenance render the development of the brand useless.


Destination Branding is a relatively new concept in the tourism industry. As stated earlier the tremendous advancement in technology and communication has given impetus to the intense competition. Given the fact that tourism industry is a major foreign exchange earner it becomes essential to protect the brands and other rights associated with it under the umbrella of Intellectual Property Rights. Despite several challenges many destination brands have not only survived but continued to make a distinguishing mark on the global map. However, it is necessary to educate the masses regarding the importance of destination branding for a better future to the tourism Industry. And at the same time, it is also necessary to understand that the development of Destination Branding is a slow process and it requires long term and co-ordinated efforts from the Government and the people. It is only if everyone understands and realises the value of Destination Branding that the tourist will receive a sense of warmth and hospitality. The same spirt also needs to be reflected in ancillary aspects to the Destination Branding for purpose of developing the tourism Industry and thereby boosting the country’s economy.


  1. Wadhwa.B.L (2017), Law Relating to Intellectual Property,Universal Law Publsihing
  2. Naryanan.P (2019), Intellectual Property Law, Eastern Law House


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  11.  Retrieved July 2019, from
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