Big B to film last leg of Gujarat tourism campaign

Kolkata, July 6 (IANS) Banking on the success of the 'Khusboo Gujarat Ki' television campaigns that sees megastar Amitabh Bachchan endorsing the vibrant state, the Gujarat tourism department will enlist him again to promote Parsi, Sikh and Jain sites.

"Amitabh Bachchan will start shooting for us in September to promote sites of interest to the Parsi and Sikh communities," Vipul Mitra, principal secretary in the Gujarat tourism department, said during an interaction here Saturday.

The shoot will span 20 days, and it is the last part of the campaign which was initiated in May 2010.

Shot over 17 destinations across three years, the "Khusboo Gujarat Ki" campaign culminated into an equal number of promotional films that proved to be a "turning point" for the state's tourism industry.

"We roped in Piyush Pandey and Shoojit Sircar for the films. Bachchan travelled hundreds of thousands of kilometers on roads. He worked for free and stayed in circuit houses," said Mitra.

The 40-second shots have been wowing masses through primetime TV slots and have upped the influx of tourists into the state.

"In the last two years, there has been an increase in the total number of tourists by 54 lakh. This amounts to 16 percent, which is double the national average," said Mitra.

Come September, Ambaji in north Gujarat will be home to replicas of 51 shaktipeeths (places of worship associated with goddess Shakti) in the country.

"Replicas will be created at Ambaji which is one of the 51 shaktipeeth. It will be opened in September," said Mitra.

According to Mitra, the principal target will be domestic tourists, followed by NRIs and foreign tourists.

"There has been an increase in foreign tourists by 300 percent in the last three years, which is much less overall. So our primary focus will be domestic arrivals," said Mitra.