UK targets tourists with Hindi film locales

MUMBAI: Britain has drawn up a map featuring locations used by directors of 30 Bollywood hits, in a bid to attract more Indian tourists to London and the rest of the UK.

The tourism body, VisitBritain, will launch the map this week ahead of the International Indian Film Academy Awards (IIFA), to be held in Yorkshire from 7 June 2007 for four days.

The map will be handed out to stars and movie moguls at the IIFA awards ceremony. In addition, more than 30,000 copies of the map will be distributed in India where VisitBritain has set up a film tourism office.

Among the less well-known attractions included in the map are an obscure Surrey football ground and a Slough shopping centre. Molesey FC featured in scenes from the NRI film director Gurinder Chadha’s Bend It Like Beckham, the story of a daughter of orthodox Sikhs battling to realise her dream to be a footballer, while Slough’s Queensmere centre provided the backdrop for the 2001 Bollywood movie Yaadein.

Other unusual attractions on the map include Bicester Village shopping centre in Oxfordshire, which featured in the 2001 film Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, and Dolbadarn Castle in North Wales, used in Kyun! Ho Gaya Na in 2004.

More traditional tourist attractions, including Windsor Castle, Trafalgar Square, Tower Bridge and Princes Street in Edinburgh, also feature.

“Some 23 million Indians go to see a film every day and you only have to look at the figures to see that more and more of them are being inspired to visit Britain,” says VisitBritain chief executive Tom Wright.

“Britain’s popularity as a Bollywood backdrop can only help us raise our profile among this growing audience and we are confident that this campaign will help them to see it as Bollywood Britain.”

The number of Indians visiting Britain rose by 25 per cent last year, spending 294 million pounds. And Indian tourists spent more than tourists from Japan in London for the first time last year, says the company.

Some films such as Namastey London and Bride and Prejudice, were filmed almost entirely in Britain because sequences shot overseas are particularly attractive to Indian cinema-goers. The number of Bollywood movies shot in London has quadrupled over the past five years, from 10 in 2001 to 40 last year. A further 160 films were shot at locations across Britain.