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Bollywood's reel trip

New destinations are waking up to Bollywood?s potential to promote themselves as tourist spots, writes Princy Jain.

india Updated: Jun 17, 2006 14:54 IST

Ever since Yash Chopra opened up Switzerland as the honeymoon destination for Indians by romancing it in his fil ms, Bollywood has inevitably become the brand ambassador for more than one foreign country. And now, the horizon expands with newer countries waking up to our stars’ potential — Korea, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore.

World tour

Besides Yash Chopra, the Bhatts too has tapped virgin tourist spots across the globe. Korea has been its latest find through the film Gangster. And do you remember SRK’s Chalte Chalte that was shot in Greece?

Karan Johar fell in love with New York while shooting Kal Ho Naa Ho, and returns to the city for his mega-starrer Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna. Rakesh Roshan’s Krrish has been shot in Singapore and Farhan Akhtar’s Don will breeze through the streets of Malaysia. Of the recent releases, Fanaa was shot in Poland after Kunal Kohli was refused permission to shoot it in Jammu and Kashmir. And once on the silver screen, these locations become popular as tourist destinations.

The foreign hand

These destinations have sure learnt how to tap the Indian tourist through Bollywood. Take the example of Singapore Tourism Board’s $10 million promotion called the Singapore Scheme, for facilitating film shoots in the country. This includes subsidies on international films production of up to 50 per cent and putting the shooting locations on the tourist map. “Our packages will have a special mention of the location where a particular film is being shot,” says Kenneth Lim of Singapore Tourism.

Adds Bhupesh Kumar of the Malaysia Tourism Board, “Once people see their favourite star on a particular location, they insist on visiting it.” Even Dubai, where IIFA 2006 is being held, has on offer special weekend packages called IIFA weekend, taken up by the film frat and resident as well as non-resident Indians.

Other countries like Thailand, Austria, South Africa, Egypt and Canada too have joined the race to lure Bollywood by offering such packages.

Double whammy

While all this means a good opportunity for foreign nations to woo the Indian tourist, Indian filmmakers too benefit. Not only do they capture exotic locales, they do so without any hassles unlike India where seeking permission is a big issue. “Getting permission from the Indian government is a major hassle whereas the Singapore government was very supportive,” says Rakesh Roshan, talking about Krrish.

As for us, it’s a world tour in star company.