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Now, a Da Vinci Code tour

By Ravi Teja Sharma in New Delhi
June 15, 2006 13:20 IST
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Most of us in India associate Switzerland with the famous Hindi flick Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge.

Many other Yash Chopra films followed which not only captured the imagination of Indian audiences but also gave tourism boards of various countries an opportunity to attract more Indians to their destinations. These boards have now found another vehicle to attract Indians - Hollywood movies.

A very recent example is The Da Vinci Code, which is being used by UK's marketing body VisitBritain (VB). VB is promoting The Da Vinci Code trail, from Paris to London and it seems to be working.

A variety of locations, from London to Edinburgh, have experienced a visitor surge since the phenomenal success of Dan Brown's novel as well as Ron Howard's movie version in May.

Statistics from Temple Church and Rosslyn Chapel (Scotland) show record numbers. Rosslyn Chapel has had an increase of visitors from around 9,000 a year to 90,000 a year as a result of The Da Vinci Code (the book and the movie).

Tour operators agree that these are very niche tours undertaken by only a very few in India, though their popularity is increasing.

Meher Bhandara, GM, corporate communications, Travel Corporation, India says most Indians combine such a tour with other sightseeing options as well.

"We have got quite a few inquiries for The Da Vinci Code package. It is too early though to peg a figure on how many people have travelled," says Bhandara. Such a package with TCI costs over £700, depending on the time of the year as well as the extension taken.

A word of caution though. A similar promotion for the last Harry Porter movie didn't click too well with Indian travellers.

The lure of Bollywood though is difficult to beat. "We have already done a couple of Bollywood theme-based groups to Austria and Switzerland this season (since April)," says Devesh Khanna, business head - leisure, of Travel House, which organises customised holidays for groups of 20-30.

If you are planning to opt for these theme-trips, do budget higher. These customised as well as pre-planned theme holidays are comparatively expensive. Khanna estimates these packages to be at least 50 per cent costlier than other regular tours.

Khanna divulged that they are working on a 7-day Hollywood theme package for a group of about 40 Indians in August-end. This will include entry into various Hollywood studios (and a special show in one of them).

More such packages can be expected to be launched in the near future. TCI is planning a package on the movie Krrish with the Singapore Tourism Board. Many other tourism boards are also wooing the Indian film industry.

Switzerland has a whole website dedicated to film locations in the country - - which also has a special guide for Indian filmmakers.

In fact there is a film roadshow called 'Location' later this month where many tourism boards will showcase their destinations to woo Indian moviemakers.

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Ravi Teja Sharma in New Delhi
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