Efforts to rope in Bollywood stars as brand ambassadors to promote tourism in Bihar have fallen flat over the years largely due to frequent transfers of senior officials and lack of interest by bureaucrats.
Bihar-born actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha was approached to promote tourism in the state. Others actors like Shekhar Suman and Sinha’s daughter Sonakshi were also expected to be roped in to highlight the distinct qualities of the state.
And the most recent step in this direction have been the letters sent to the actress-turned-MP Rekha and the noted poet and scriptwriter Javed Akhtar.
“But the efforts never materialised,” a tourism official, who did not want to be named, said.
He said that frequent change of officials at the top level in the state tourism department affect the process as new officials do not look into the old proposals and plans get shelved.
“In 2004, the then tourism secretary had taken several steps to bring Bihar on the international tourism map. He not only planned to improve in tourist amenities, but also planned its marketing strategy. A heritage hotel was planned at Sultan Palace in the state capital in the line of the palace turned hotels in Rajasthan. He also wanted a golf course at Bodh Gaya to make foreign tourists stay back. And to highlight the region’s tourism potential he planned to rope in brand ambassador,” the official said.
Though the names of the Suman and Sonakshi were also proposed in a meeting, a letter was sent only to Shatrughan Sinha seeking his consent to become the face of the campaign to promote tourism, he added.
The official who took up the issue was transferred soon after and the plan never took off. Neither Shatrughan Sinha responded to the letter nor the officials who took over pursued the matter, he said.
While the Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation (BSTDC) has recently taken some steps to acquire the Sultan Palace to turn it into a heritage hotel, the plan for the golf course in Bodh Gaya has been dumped.
“Even the plan to rope in Rekha and Javed Akhtar as brand ambassadors has remained confined to the department files. The department had sent them letters in the beginning of 2015. As Amitabh Bachchan has already been roped in as brand ambassador by the Gujarat government, we wanted to engage an equally glamorous personality like Rekha,” he said.
Nothing has been done so far to pursue the matter.
Bollywood actors have been active tourism brand ambassadors of different states. Superstar Amitabh Bachchan has been the brand ambassador for Gujarat Tourism Corporation Limited for over five years now. The Andhra Pradesh government recently roped in actor-couple Ajay Devgn and Kajol as the brand ambassadors.
Aamir Khan was the face of Indian tourism before he was sacked last year, following his criticism of the government over growing intolerance in the country.