Macau, Rome, Milan, Florence and Venice – with locales as exotic as these, the Italian tourism board is trying to woo Bollywood filmmakers here at the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) to come, visit and shoot their films in Italy.
If the locations in Italy are shown through Bollywood films, it will be a “long-term investment” to promote tourism in their country, according to Salvatore Iannielo, representative of the ENIT – Italian State Tourist Board – in India.
“We got in touch with Bollywood because it plays a very important role in the lives of Indians, especially the actors and actresses. In virtue of this, we realized that this is a force that is capable of driving the decision of consumers and so we decided to be supportive of Bollywood to make Italy an important shooting destination for the industry,” Iannielo told IANS in an interview.
“As we know the moment a movie shot in Italy is a hit, it will remain in the lives of Indians for a long time. So it is not a simple advertising – it is an investment for a lifetime,” he added.
ENIT’s efforts to popularize Italy as a shooting location for Indian films began in 2005 when they collaborated with Yash Raj Films for “Bachna Ae Haseeno”, shots of which were taken in Venice, Rome and Amalfi Coast.
The board has recently associated with Sajid Nadiadwala for Akshay Kumar and Kareena Kapoor-starrer “Kambakkht Ishq”, which has been shot in Vicenza.
Actor-director Sajid Khan is also expected to fly down to the country later in June to conduct his second round of reccee for his film “Housefull”.
According to Iannielo, Italy has a wide variety of options for locations and has much to offer that is different.
While the northern part of Italy is marked by its fast paced lifestyle, the southern part is enhanced by the old-world charm with little villages, crumbling ruins and widespread beaches. The Alps too are one of the major tourist attractions there.
“From north to south, for tourism as well as for shooting, Italy has such a variety of options – it’s not like many other places where the offering is limited. Because of the culture, artistic treasure and its old civilization from the Roman Empire to the Renaissance, one will have in each corner a different feeling, a different emotion,” he said.
The representative, who is posted in India’s financial and entertainment capital Mumbai, says tourists from India have increased manifolds over the past seven years.
“When we started in 2001, the number of people going to Italy from India was just 69,000. In 2007, we had 150,000 – so we are talking about a major growth over a span of seven years – which is quite good.
“Two-third of these people go and live in four to five star hotels in Italy and so India makes for a good up-market target for us. We look at India as an emerging country – we need to have a long term liaison,” Iannielo said.
Till now, India’s favourite international shooting locations have been in Europe, Thailand as well as South Africa.