The Tourism Ministry has decided to rope in Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the face of its "Incredible India" campaign instead of the usual Bollywood stars, PTI reported on Sunday. Stating that Modi was the "best face" for the campaign, Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma claimed that there was an increase in tourists from countries the prime minister had visited during his many trips abroad.
An official said, "No Bollywood actor will be engaged for the campaign aimed at attracting foreign travellers and video footage of Modi talking about tourism in India and abroad will be used." The official said the ministry was compiling footage of the prime minister, and that the campaign will be released within 45 days in time for the tourism season that commences by November-end.
Sharma said, "The perception about India has changed significantly in the last two years with the prime minister visiting a host of countries during the period. So, who else could be a better face for Indian tourism than our prime minister?”
Officials said the ministry was initially considering Bollywood actors Priyanka Chopra and Amitabh Bachchan. Reports that the campaign's previous ambassador Aamir Khan was sacked for his comments on intolerance, which were perceived as anti-government, had surfaced in January. However, the ministry had dismissed the claims while stating that Khan's contract had expired.
The prime minister has faced criticism for his numerous trips abroad. On August 5, Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh told Rajya Sabha members that Rs 6.4 crore was spent on just event management during the 51 foreign visits that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made since he was elected to power. The Centre has defended the trips, saying they are essentia India's foreign policy.