Three months after the state tourism department decided to rope in Kangana Ranaut, Himachal-Pradesh-born leading lady of Bollywood, for promoting its sluggish hospitality industry, it’s tough to get hold of the film star because of her busy shooting schedule.
Like Gujarat benefited from Amitabh Bachchan and West Bengal from Shahrukh Khan, Himachal Pradesh hoped to gain from the national-award-winning actress. “We have tried to contact her but she’s busy shooting on different locations,” tourism development board vice-chairman Vijay Singh Mankotia told Hindustan Times. It was his idea to sign up Bollywood’s Himachali stars as the state’s brand ambassadors.
Earlier playback singer Mohit Chauhan, who is from Nahan in Sirmaur district; and actress Preity Zinta, who belongs to Seo village in Shimla’s Jubbal tehsil had her initial education in Shimla, were approached. Initially, Zinta had liked the proposal made to her during the previous state regime of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) but, later, things did not work out and the government looked to Kangana, who had expressed her willingness to take the offer.
“I will visit Mumbai next week and meet Kangana personally. I am sure that being a true Himachali, she will not dishearten us,” said Mankotia. The actress is from Bhambla, a Mandi district village that borders Hamirpur. “Bollywood stars have lot of influence on the general public. Gujarat has Amitabh Bachchan and West Bengal has Shahrukh Khan for tourism promotion. My office is in touch with Kangana’s family for talks with her,” said the tourism development board vice-chairman.
The state’s tourism Industry is struggling for the past three years. Since Uttarakhand’s catastrophic flash floods in 2013, backpackers are avoiding venturing into the beautiful tribal areas of Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti. Rain-triggered landslides have hit road connectivity to these districts and parts of Kullu, Shimla, Kangra, and Chamba. In June 2013, tourist arrival fell by 32%, though the overall decline in the year was 6%. In 2014, the tourist inflow increased by only 7%. From 1.5 crore tourists in 2013, the number had dropped to 85 lakh in 2014.
The government even tried to attract Gujarat pilgrims to more than 2,000 Hindu shrines in Himachal Pradesh that are magnificent works of architecture. Many are also associated with ancient legends. The Shaktipeeths of Jawalamukhi, Chamunda, Brijeshwari, and Chintpurni in Kangra and Una district attracts draw hordes of devotees each year. The state doesn’t have adequate infrastructure to deal with the rush.