GotoBavaria, Chattisgarh emphasise uniqueness at 'Locations 2003'

MUMBAI: The just concluded Locations 2003 billed as the world first tourism event saw presentations by Germany and the Indian state of Chattisgarh.

Chhattisgarh Tourism Board's MD Dr. A Jayathilak noted that it was not often that you see television and film professionals interacting with the tourism industry. "The concept of using a film location to promote tourism is not new to us. It is a matter of the state governments getting their act together."

He noted that the general infrastructure present in Chattisgarh was excellent compared to other Indian states. In fact Chattisgarh is the only power surplus state in India. "We have declared tourism as an industry and so new hotels are exempted from luxury and commercial taxes. In addition new ventures in the recreation sector will not have the entertainment tax imposed.

"Through this forum we want to make the industry aware of the unique landmarks that we possess which would prove invaluable for any film. We have the country's largest waterfall. 22,000 varieties of rice are grown in this area. The UN has declared us as the most bio-diverse hot spot. Half the state is under forest cover which is second in density only to the Amazon. Another landmark is Asia's biggest catholic church."

Meanwhile Bavaria is the centre of Germany's film and television industries. It combines natural beauty with excellent production and post production facilities. GotoBavaria is the state agency for media and IT. The agency's Peter Englert said that tourism in conjunction with film and television account for 16 per cent of the states GDP. " The industries employ over 300,000 people and the state gets 22 million visitors a year. The phenomenon of Bavaria becoming synonymous with tourism dates back to the Oscar winner The Sound of Music. Americans in particular wanted to see the hills that Julie Andrews sang about."

As far as India is concerned he said that we may have a problem in one area. Locations need to be uniquely identifiable. While India as a whole is unique it is difficult to point out differences between Maharashtra, Gujarat and UP. "If that is the case then it is important to find activities that are identified with a particular location. On the television front The Black Forest Plague was Germany's most successful television series. It was set in a hospital where doctors and nurses brought people back from the abyss of death so to speak.

The part of the black forest where the show was shot has become a tourist landmark. Scores of visitors come in daily to get a feel of the show. The location appearing as part of a film or a television series title can also help give a push as it gets etched in peoples minds. We have realised that tourists are not homogeneous beings. They are special interest groups that have to be catered to by all types of offerings."

As a follow-up GotoBavaria is organising a Made in Germany Made In South India film festival in Bangalore next month. The event is being organised in conjunction with Max Mueller Bhavan and will kick off with Nowhere in Africa.. Earlier this year it won Germany the Oscar for foreign language film.

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