Actor-turned politician Chiranjeevi, who recently took charge as the Union tourism minister, has attended the World Travel Mart in London and is back with big plans for the sector in India. From promoting sports and films to rural tourism, he spoke to Ruchika Chitravanshi on his goals for the ministry, and more. Edited excerpts:
What is your first priority as the new tourism minister?
What is a film maker’s first priority? It is to publicise. My first agenda is to advertise India and create more awareness about the destination. We have successfully launched Take Two of the Incredible India campaign. The international campaign is called ‘Find what you seek’ and the domestic one is “Go Beyond.” I want to increase awareness about India more for the domestic traveller than the foreign one. I, as an Indian, have not seen the entire India yet.
How would you use your Tollywood and Bollywood connect to boost tourism?
I recently met Ramesh Sippy to discuss this matter. I am all for more such conventions with film personalities as they travel all over the world and are faces of India. Right now, I just want to initiate a dialogue so they can suggest innovative ways to promote India.
Have you met the travel and hotel industry people and what are the problems they have discussed with you?
I have met many representatives of the industry. It has been very fruitful. There are several policy matters that we will deal with in the days to come and address all their issues.
The sector is feeling the pangs of global economic slowdown. What are your expectations in terms of overall growth?
This is a temporary phenomenon. The industry is still growing and compared to the global tourism industry, we are doing much better.
Especially our domestic tourism is showing very positive growth. This is an area we want to build on. For instance, so many tourists visit Tirupati and after seeing the temple, they return. If we can do something to increase that stay by extending the tourism destination itself, it will boost domestic tourism immensely.