Bollywood boosts local tourism
By Prachi Kadam (DNA; May 7, 2012)
One has heard of Bollywood being wooed by foreign countries to promote their destinations through the films. The most popular examples being that of actor Shah Rukh Khan promoting Berlin through his film Don 2 and actor Akshay Kumar promoting Canada as a brand ambassador. The trend gained momentum with the success of theHrithik Roshan-Katrina Kaif-Farhan Akhtar-Abhay Deol starrer, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, where travel agents were bombarded with bookings for Spain. Now, a reverse trend of sorts is currently taking place in India, where tourists are not just seeking hot destinations such as Kashmir, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, but also locales like Wai near Satara made popular by films like Omkara and Dabangg or Dharavi post Slumdog Millionare, Bhopal thanks to Prakash Jha’s films and many such places amongst others. Spotting actor Salman Khan’s Panvel farmhouse from hill-stations like Matheran gives a different thrill to those taking a filmi tour. Industry experts feel that instead of boosting tourism for international places, scouting and exploring various unexplored domestic locales are not just budget-friendly, but also help in local tourism.
Akshay says, “A film can really help boost a place’s tourism prospects, not just in a small way, but substantially because it features in a film that has mass appeal. Hence when we look for places that are unexplored in our country,it should also have all the necessary ingredients to be a tourist spot.”
Travel agents and tour operators are now increasingly tapping places that have featured in popular films and say that filmi tours are gaining popularity. “For people going to Mahabaleshwar, we also offer Wai, which is very close to the hill station, as many shoots take place there, making it a tourist attraction. The reason being that they get a glimpse of their favourite Bollywood stars shooting there. But foreign tourists usually prefer to go to places like Dharavi, CST, Nariman Point in Mumbai.”
Another travel agent, Suresh Maniar, feels that South East Asia, particularly Thailand, has done exceptionally well because of the films being shot there. “Indian tourists are open to visiting places that they have already seen in the films and ads. For instance, there are places like Goa, Jaipur, and Kashmir where guides take them to various locations made popular in films. In fact, many packages are designed in such a way that they can watch a film shoot,” says Maniar.
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