Like Akhilesh, Yogi govt too looks at Bollywood for socioeconomic branding

Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath along with Bollywood actors Akshay Kumar and Bhumi Pednekar take oath to spread awareness among people about cleanliness, in Lucknow. PTI Photo
The Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh is sewing collaborations with Bollywood personalities for promoting its socioeconomic agenda as brand ambassadors or advisors.This is unfolding as the Yogi government, which assumed power on March 19, has completed its first 100 days in office and is now nearing the end of its euphemistic ‘honeymoon period’ of 6 months, when things ought to move on the ground.

Interestingly, the previous Akhilesh Yadav government had also proactively associated with known film personalities to promote UP as film making and tourism destination.

Now, the Adityanath government has associated with top billed Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar as Brand Ambassador of ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ in UP. His forthcoming Hindi film ‘Toilet: Ek Prem Katha’ has also been made tax free. Akshay had recently visited Lucknow and also met Yogi.

Besides, the state government has sought the expertise of noted Bollywood lyric writer and ad guru Prasoon Joshi for the branding of religious, cultural and historical tourism in the state. A couple of days back, he had met UP tourism minister Rita Bahuguna Joshi here in this regard.

The UP government wants proper branding of prominent tourist spots for propelling tourist inflow and cultivating a positive image of the state.

The state has accorded top priority to ‘Kumbh’ for aggressive branding going forward. This proposal is gathering momentum in run up to the 2019 Ardh Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, for which the government has allocated Rs 500 crore.

Kumbh witnesses congregation of millions of pilgrims and tourists from all over the world and has always been a big sell for the state tourism department, which the state wants to leverage.

The minister noted UP was home to a rich repertoire of cultural, religious and historical spots with unlimited tourism potential, which should be incorporated in its larger tourism narrative to attract backpackers.

The Adityanath government is of the opinion for an aggressive branding campaign for promoting tourism, which the erstwhile regimes had simply ignored.

Apart from Kumbh, state tourism would take up Ramayan Circuit, Buddha Circuit, Kashi (Varanasi) and Ganga for tourism branding, state tourism principal secretary Avnish Awasthi informed.

Prasoon has suggested for extensive publicity to unlock the intrinsic tourism potential in the state. He, however, underlined such tourist places should be first provided with infrastructure facilities before holding out such promises during the branding exercise.

Earlier, the Yogi government had allocated Rs 2,800 crore in UP Budget 2017-18 under the head of ‘cultural heritage’, which principally pertains to popular religious circuits of Ayodhya, Varanasi, Mathura, Allahabad etc.

The lion’s share of Rs 1,240 crore has been proposed for Ramayan Circuit, Buddhist Circuit and Krishna Circuit in Ayodhya, Varanasi and Mathura respectively under ‘Swadesh Darshan Yojana’ to promote religious tourism.

Rs 200 crore has been provided for setting up a cultural centre in Varanasi, the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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