Protection of Geographical Indication Towards Tourism Approach: IPR Club
Written by Utkarsh Singh Kachhawaha
The impact of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) on tourism and related trade practices is significant and beneficial. Tourism is regarded as a highly appealing sector in terms of its potential contribution to a nation’s gross domestic product and employment figures. Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) have proven to be a highly efficacious mechanism for gaining a competitive advantage in the tourism industry.
The tourism industry has witnessed the evolution of the notion of ‘destination branding’, which encompasses more than just the registration of a logo or a catchy tagline. The utilization of various forms of Intellectual Property (IP), including trademarks, copyright, geographical indications, industrial designs, trade secrets, and patents, is employed to establish image that facilitates a comprehensive perspective on tourism, rather than a narrow, isolated view.
What are the reasons behind an individual’s decision to embark on a journey? This question may elicit responses that vary in direction. One possible explanation is that individuals may have a preference for novel experiences that deviate from their routine encounters. This refers to a distinct topography, diverse customs manifested through artistic expression, including dance, music, and literature unique to a specific locality, distinctive architectural designs and infrastructure, or potentially a contrasting way of experiencing existence. Tourism can be understood as a collection of experiences, each of which may be subject to various forms of intellectual property rights (IPRs).
Intellectual property rights (IPRs) have become increasingly prominent in this industry due to the diminishing relevance of the concept of isolated tourism. Contemporary tourism practices, such as eco-tourism, agro-tourism, health-tourism, religious tourism, among others, have the potential to attract individuals to travel to greater distances. The trademark ‘Red Hospitality and Leisure’ is utilized by the United States as a means to endorse eco-tourism. The Hilltops Geographical Indication (GI) is utilized as a promotional tool to encourage agro-tourism in Australia, specifically for activities such as wine tasting and visiting the Hilltops region. Several additional examples are discussed below to underscore the critical role that intellectual property rights (IPRs) play in the dissemination of tourism.
Trademarks and Tourism
Trademarks are identifiable symbols, words, or marks that serve the purpose of distinguishing the origin of goods or services from those of other entities. Trademarks aid in constructing the brand identity of an organization and facilitating its consistent recognition by consumers over time. Let us examine several typical instances that are frequently encountered.
- It was the Swiss alpine hamlet of St. Moritz that was the first to register its name in order to gain international fame.
- The ‘I Love NY’ logo can be seen practically wherever you go in the Empire State, from sidewalks to Manhattan cocktails to record sleeves to pizza boxes to cheesecake wrappers, and its fame has expanded well beyond New York.
- The promotional campaign “Malaysia-Truly Asia” has been extensively broadcasted through various media channels, showcasing the country’s rich cultural heritage, historical significance, diverse landscapes, and other notable attractions.
- Tourism Australia has adopted a distinctive approach by permitting third-party utilization of its logo for promotional purposes, subject to specific pre-established criteria.
- The two aforementioned logos, namely ‘Malaysia-Truly Asia’ and ‘Tourism Australia,’ have effectively employed the strategy of ‘umbrella branding.’ The implementation of umbrella branding facilitates the consolidation of tourism under a single, cohesive brand.
- Collaboration with external entities is undertaken to leverage the mark’s potential in enhancing the nation’s identification capabilities and reaping its associated benefits. These marks have the potential to be utilized in conjunction with other marks that are solely owned by an entity.
- In addition to employing imaginative logos and appealing taglines, collective marks and certification marks are also utilized. The utilization of such symbols can also be categorized as umbrella branding. The recognition of smaller stakeholders in the industry for meeting the prerequisites established by facilitating organizations is facilitated by this process. An illustrative instance is the utilization of the ‘Green Globe’ emblem in India, which serves to advance conscientious and sustainable methodologies in the course of endeavors linked to travel and tourism.
- The Poverty Alleviation Association of Sichuan Province in China registered the ‘Sichuan Poverty Alleviation’ logo as a collective mark to be used in promoting sustainable development objectives. Bed and breakfasts (B&Bs) in Taiwan may get the country’s accreditation for providing a pleasant stay for guests.
Poverty Alleviation Association of Sichuan Province located in China.
Taiwan B&B mark (Reg no: 01504681)
Geographical Indications and Tourism
The employment of Geographical Indications (GIs) is a commonly employed strategy that is implemented to promote the interests of small and competitive entities, as well as indigenous communities. These entities facilitate the dissemination and advancement of the increasingly popular concept of ‘agro-tourism’ by providing a hands-on encounter that encourages tourist engagement in the production of Geographical Indication (GI) products or participation in associated celebrations, among other activities. Tourism is often associated with the promotion of Geographical Indication (GI) certified products that possess unique intrinsic qualities specific to the region of origin.
The tourism industry benefits from the esteemed acknowledgement that a good or service bearing a Geographical Indication (GI) designation receives. Thus, it is often the case that a region’s popularity and attachment are attributed to its Geographical Indication (GI). One notable example is Boudreaux, renowned for its production of wine. As an aspect of its tourism industry, individuals engage in wine tours, lodging at vineyards/wineries, participating in wine tastings and celebrations, indulging in wine baths, and other related activities. Additional illustrations include the renowned Gruyère cheese of Switzerland, as well as India’s Kolhapur for its Chappals (Sandals) and Kancheepuram for its silk sarees.
Copyright and Tourism
Indigenous craftwork, art, heritage, literature, folk music, and other cultural expressions are also appealing to tourists. Typically, these are advertised via online platforms, printed materials, televised commercials, radio broadcasts, and mobile applications that offer streaming services. All of these classifications of labor employ the concept of copyright.
One instance of this phenomenon pertains to the copyright ownership of various tourism-related digital assets, such as webpages, documents, images, graphics, audio, and videos, in Western Australia. The Western Australian Tourism Commission retains exclusive rights to these assets and reserves all associated legal privileges.The employment of Geographical Indications (GIs) is a commonly employed strategy that is implemented for the betterment of small, competitive entities and indigenous communities. 
These entities facilitate the dissemination and advancement of the increasingly popular concept of ‘agro-tourism’ by providing a hands-on encounter that encourages tourist engagement in the production of Geographical Indication (GI) products or participation in associated celebrations, among other activities. Tourism is often associated with the promotion of Geographical Indication (GI) certified products that possess unique intrinsic qualities specific to the region in which they are produced. The tourism industry benefits from the prestigious acknowledgement that a good or service bearing a Geographical Indication (GI) receives. 
Thus, on numerous occasions, a region’s popularity and affinity can be attributed to its geographical indication. For instance, Boudreaux is renowned for its wine. As a component of its tourism industry, individuals engage in wine tours, reside in vineyard or winery accommodations, partake in wine tastings and celebrations, indulge in wine baths, and other related activities. Additional instances include the renowned Gruyère cheese of Switzerland, as well as the Chappals (Sandals) of Kolhapur and the silk sarees of Kancheepuram, both of which are located in India.
Other IPRs and Tourism
Other types of intellectual property, such as industrial designs, can help and encourage tourism by protecting rights over regionally distinctive handicrafts, goods, and items.
The Law of Patents also allows for the protection of certain forms of advertising and methods of doing business.
Destination Branding Challenges
- Branding initiatives may fail if the external environment is unfavorable. Countries ravaged by natural disasters or by terrorism and conflict would struggle to attract tourists no matter how well they marketed themselves.
- Branding initiatives might be in vain if key stakeholders, including governments, communities, individuals, and promoters, do not work together effectively. Therefore, if the marking is visible to the public, it is not enough.
- Tourism branding, also known as destination branding, is essential in increasing visitors to a certain place, although it is not the sole deciding factor. Think of a situation where the destination is highly advertised but no actual measures are done to improve it. The added expense of branding, which would have to include the registration of marks in numerous countries, the use of various channels for promotion, etc., would be counterproductive.
- Strategic management is necessary while building a brand’s reputation. Marketing tourism using trademarks or other forms of intellectual property utilization is not a set-it-and-forget-it endeavor. It calls for continual communication, long-term strategy, and brand upkeep and expansion.
Technology and methods for facilitating tourism have progressed throughout time. In order to maximize the economic benefits to a country, tourism cannot function in isolation from other fields. A country’s IP system has a significant impact on its ability to compete in the tourist business alongside other states and nations. The rising level of competition makes it all the more important to recognize the value of intangible assets when developing products and services that are unique to a country or region. By establishing customer loyalty beyond regional borders, a brand’s reach may be expanded via the strategic use of intellectual property rights (IPRs).
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