How Big B has helped Gujarat tourism

New Delhi:  Bollywood icon and Gujarat brand ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, who has promoted areas like Kutch and Dwarka, will lend his rich baritone and charismatic presence to attract tourists to some more picturesque spots in the state, including this pretty hill station.

This was revealed by Kamlesh Patel, chairman of Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Ltd (TCGL), on the sidelines of an event to promote Gujarat’s only hill station Saputara as a tourist spot.

“Amitabh Bachchan will be coming to Gujarat for a seven-day shoot at the end of September. He will shoot in Saputara, Ambaji, Adalaj step wells and the Buddhist circuit,” Patel told IANS.

According to Patel, Gujarat has seen an increase in tourist footfalls over the past few years, especially since the state roped in Bachchan as its brand ambassador.

Bachchan has so far promoted the Kutch region, Dwarka, Somnath and Gir National Park. These places have seen an increase in tourist arrivals, including a 30 percent rise in foreign travellers, said Patel.

“Gujarat’s tourism has grown and now we stand on fifth spot among states in India, after Rajasthan, Kerala, Maharashtra and Goa,” Patel said.

Saputara, or the land of snakes, is a picturesque hill station in Dang district of Gujarat, just a kilometre away from the Maharashtra border. It is located in the Sahyadri hills and has a cool climate.

“The Gujarat government wants to make Saputara a major hill station getaway for tourists and we are developing the place with appropriate infrastructure,” he said.

The state also has a rich Buddhist heritage in the form of rock-cut caves and edicts across Sabarkantha, Vadnagar, Junagadh, Rajkot, Kutch and Bharuch, which it wants to develop as a major Buddhist circuit.

Patel said tourist arrivals have increased over the years. In 2006-07, the figure stood at 1.27 lakh, which increased to 1.70 lakh in 2009-10. In 2010-11, nearly two lakh tourists arrived.

“Over the next two years, the Gujarat government will pump in Rs.650 crore towards developing tourism activities and promoting tourism infrastructure,” Patel added.

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