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How Bollywood boosts tourism in Britain

By Prasun Sonwalkar in London
Last updated on: May 01, 2008 18:16 IST
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Keen to visit the popular film shooting locations in the country, cinema lovers from India and other countries are flocking to Britain, boosting its tourism by 2 billion pounds.

The euphoric interest shown by Indian tourists in visiting the places where several Bollywood films were shot, have prompted the Britain's tourism authorities to come up with a 'Bollywood map', depicting the popular shooting locations.

Though separate figures for India's films-related tourism are not available, but its thousands of tourists visiting the United Kingdom every year have made a contribution of whopping 1.8 billion pounds, says a report Stately Attraction - How Film and television programmes Promote Tourism in the UK.

The report was commissioned by the UK Film Council.

Films like the Harry Potter series, The Da Vinci Code, Gosford Park and Pride & Prejudice and television programmes including Balamory and Monarch of the Glen have been identified as a major booster for tourism in the country.

"Effect of film tourism was long lasting. British films and television programmes play a powerful role in showcasing the UK to the rest of the world and increased tourism," said John Woodward, chief executive, UK Film Council.

Bend it like Beckham, a film by Indian-origin director Gurinder Chaddha, raised the profile of Britain in India, south Asia and the Far East. It also placed the west London town of Southall on the international tourist map.

It was the first commercial Western film to be shown in North Korea and in China and changed the perception of Britain. The film also prompted a surge of interest in women's Football, including the founding of the first women's football league in India, the report says.

"There are countless examples of visitors flocking to locations they've seen in films or on TV," Woodward said.

Apart from it, Bollywood potboilers like Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) which depicted Southall as its heroine Simran's home (a roll played by Kajol) brought the city close to the heart of Indian audiences.

Some of the most popular locations for Indian films have been Trafalgar Square, Natural History Museum, Tower Bridge, the Royal Albert Hall, Millennium Dome, the houses of Parliament, Nelson's Column and the London Eye.

Besides, the Waterloo Station, the largest station in UK, has also been a desired location for the film-makers. In recent flick Jhoom Barabar Jhoom (2007), it is the key location around which the story revolves, including a dance sequence starring Amitabh Bachchan.

The London Eye is another popular shooting location thanks to its unique silhouette against the capital's skyline. Films like Bride & Prejudice (2004), Wimbledon (2004) and Thunderbirds (2004) were shot here.

Among other Bollywood movies, Hrithik Roshan, Rani Mukherjee starrer Mujhse Dosti Karoge, Shahrukh Khan, Kajol starrer Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and BR Chopra's Baghban have done extensive shootings here.

Hailing the phenomena, Minister for Film and Tourism Margaret Hodge said: "We have beautiful scenery and awesome buildings across the length and breadth of Britain. The film and television industries provide a platform to show the rest of the world just how much we have to offer."

"It is a terrific benefit that not only are our films successful, but their locations are becoming destinations in their own right as people seek to relive their favourite movie moments," the minister added.

Local officials in Yorkshire estimate that during the IIFA weekend alone in June 2007, the region's economy gained by nearly 10 million pounds.

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Prasun Sonwalkar in London
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