Why has Switzerland always been so famous with Indian honeymooners? Why has Spain suddenly caught our attention after Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara? Whether we accept it or not, for most of us, vacation plans revolve around the locales of the latest Bollywood movie that catches our fancy.
Keeping the same in mind, Tourism Department, Chandigarh Administration and CITCO, along with North India Management Association (NIMA) organised a conference on ‘Integrated Development in Northern India’, connecting the states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Uttrakhand. The discussion — attended by actors Kabir Bedi, Kirron Kher and Dolly Ahluwalia at Hotel Shivalikview, Sector 17, on Tuesday — was debated if Indian tourism and the entertainment industry go hand-in-hand.
Actor Kabir Bedi initiated the discussion by saying, “As Indian cinema completes 100 years, it becomes equally important for us to cash in on the opportunities that come along with the celebrations. Cinema creates employment, gives the economy a boost and increases foreign tourism. Domestic tourism should be promoted, but the question is, how?”
“The tourism department of every state can lure celebs to endorse their respective states. This would be possible if these departments open up their offices in Mumbai and approach producers with slide shows of their best locations,” he added.
Stressing on ways to boost domestic tourism, actor Kirron Kher said, “India has various unexplored landscapes. What we lack, however, is good infrastructure, maintenance (especially of our hill stations) and discipline. When I travel to Shimla now, I miss those picturesque huts with red rooftop, sitting pretty next to fern trees. The town designing today is pathetic; all sorts of colours are visible on rooftops, which obviously lacks cinematic appeal.”
“Another request I’d like to make to some state authorities in North India is to lay stress on security for women actors. When we shoot in interiors of Punjab and Haryana, we come across men with narrow mindsets; unlike the men in Chandigarh,” she added.
Adding on to Chandigarh tourism being promoted through cinema, she says, “Please protect the essence of Chandigarh from the ‘builder mafia’. Keep it as less polluted as possible. We’d also like to request the authorities to provide filmmakers with one common licence to shoot in the entire region — Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab. If a filmmaker comes all the way to Chandigarh to shoot, he’d also like to capture the beauty of the outskirts of the UT and the lush countryside of Punjab.”
With a request to revive the system, costume designer and actor Dolly Ahluwalia said, “A way to boost tourism is to be transparent and honest in our dealings. If a state wants its tourism to improve, they should be ready to welcome people with a pure heart and a pure system. The field of tourism too is not free of corruption. Weed that out and make the process easier for filmmakers, at least.”