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PM Modi to be tourism mascot; ad agency screening under way

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MUMBAI: The leader is the natural ambassador. Why would there be any need to create a brand or national identity from celebrities/socialites? The nationalist is India's most well-known face.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to be the mascot of the Incredible India campaign with the Tourism Ministry deciding to finally drop plans to bring in any Bollywood stars, including Amitabh Bachchan, for the role which was vacant after ouster of Aamir Khan earlier this year.

Earlier, names of leading stars Amitabh Bachchan and actress Priyanka Chopra were doing rounds for the campaign aimed at promoting India as a favourite tourist destination abroad.

No Bollywood actor will now be engaged for the campaign targeted at attracting foreign travellers. Video footages of Modi during the last two-and-a-half years where he has talked about tourism in India and abroad will be utilised for the campaign, a senior ministry official told PTI.

The ministry is planning to use -- for audio and radio release -- two types of communications of different durations where Modi had talked about the uniqueness and diversity of the various places in the country, the official said.

The ministry is presently "working on selecting the footages", the official said, adding that the campaign would be released in the next 40-45 days as the Indian tourism season starts by November-end due to favourable weather as also the Christmas holidays and New Year celebrations.

The official said the process of selecting the agency, which will carry out the task of running the campaign, is also under the process.

Earlier, the tourism minister Mahesh Sharma had endorsed Modi's persona for the role, saying he is the "best face" to promote the Incredible India campaign. He had asserted that the country has witnessed a jump in the tourists inflow from the countries the prime minister had visited. He had said that the ministry need not have any Bollywood face for the campaign.

Sharma said that the perception about India had changed significantly in the last two years with Prime Minister Modi visiting a host of countries during the period. So, who else could be the better face for Indian tourism than the Prime Minister, he added.

A senior ministry official, supporting Sharma's remarks, said the tourist inflow from countries such as the Australia, the UK, the US, Germany, Fiji, Brazil, Canada and Myanmar, among other, had witnessed a significant jump after the PM's visit there.

Though it was believed that Khan was eased out for his remarks on perceived intolerance, the ministry had maintained that he was not hired as the contract with the advertising agency had expired.

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