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Foreign tourism boards bitten by Bollywood charm

By Aparna Krishnakumar in Mumbai
July 14, 2005 11:35 IST
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Inviting Hindi film producers in their country seems to be the latest mantra of foreign tourism boards. Rakesh Roshan's Kaho Na Pyar Hai was shot in New Zealand. Soon after the release number of tourists visiting New Zealand was shot up by four times.

No wonder Singapore Tourism Board made a deal with Rakesh Roshan's Filmkraft Production to shoot 60 per cent of their forthcoming film Krissh in Singapore.

Early this year, a group of producers were hosted in South Africa to see the locations on offer. Hong Kong, Australia, Netherlands and the UK tourism boards in association with the local film development councils are all working out strategies to attract the Indian film producers.

"We want to promote Singapore not only as an attractive filming destination but also appeal to both non resident Indians and Indians to visit the country," said Lim Neo Chian, deputy chairman and chief executive, Singapore Tourism Board.

The tourism board will invest $10 million in Bollywood productions over the next three years. The objective is to develop and promote Singapore as a destination for international film and production companies.

"We believe that Bollywood presence has a role to play in promoting a tourist spot. We are evaluating opportunities to invite Hindi film producers for shooting," said Lance Littlefield, country manager, India, South African Tourism.

Sabas Joseph, director of Wizcraft, known for the staging the IIFA Awards for the last five year, points out that 18 countries have made bids to host the next awards ceremony.

According to Kiran Nambiar, country manager, New Zealand Tourism Board, Bollywood films are the best platform to promote a virgin destination and to create awareness amongst viewers who would be potential tourists.

Singapore gets 4,70,000 Indian tourists a year and is looking for more this year.

While most tourism boards would work along with their country's trade offices in providing cheaper production and location facilities, Singapore has made the first concrete effort to build a long lasting relationship with Bollywood.

Switzerland, on the other hand, renamed one of their lakes as 'Chopra Lake' to honour Yash Chopra who has been shooting films in the Alps for the last 15 years.

There may not be immediate results but the foreign tourism boards believe in long term investment. So the next time you see a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film being shot in Bavaria, you now know the reason.
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Aparna Krishnakumar in Mumbai
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