Chief minister Nitish Kumar remains the brightest face of Bihar. The state, as of now, cannot think of anybody beyond him as its tourism brand ambassador.
Stars not fitting the “bill”, the only person the tourism department could fall back on to woo tourists was Nitish. His clean image, coupled with his proactive role in changing the face of Bihar, made him the obvious choice.
Hiring a celebrity brand ambassador is not on the priority list of tourism minister Sunil Kumar. He told The Telegraph that Nitish would be projected as the face of tourism in the state for the time being.
“Nitish Kumar is the face of changing Bihar. We have decided to portray him as the face of tourism in the state as he needs no introduction. He is a well-known man throughout the country,” Sunil said.
“Some time back, my department had thought of hiring the service of a star to promote the tourist spots in the state. But when we found roping in a celebrity would cost the state crores, we scrapped the idea,” he said.
Asserting that the tourism sector in Bihar was developing at the moment, he said: “The money we would have spent on hiring a star brand ambassador would be used to develop the tourist spots.”
He said: “Formally roping in someone as a brand ambassador is a lengthy process. It even needs a cabinet approval. We have not got into those formalities, as we have Nitish Kumar to project,” he added.
Sources in the tourism department said the state would start looking for a star to promote Bihar tourism from late next year.
“First, the sector has to be strengthened. Only then, the state can think of using a face to promote the tourist spots. And that can be of anyone. Maybe, a Bihari who has climbed up the popularity ladder can be an option,” an official said.
Deepak Kumar, the principal secretary of the tourism department, also prescribed improvement for the industry.
“Things are moving fast in Bihar tourism. The department is trying to woo foreign tourists with several schemes. The state tourism is not very strong infrastructure-wise and we are working on it,” the senior officer pointed out.
Unlike Bihar, several states have hired the services of Bollywood or sports stars to woo tourists. (See graphic)
Gujarat has already roped in superstar Amitabh Bachchan as its tourism brand ambassador. Bollywood star Preity Zinta promotes tourism in Himachal Pradesh.
Superstar Shah Rukh Khan was recently made the brand ambassador of Bengal. Hrithik Roshan is the face of Maharashtra tourism.
In 2010, ace shuttler Saina Nehwal was made the brand ambassador of Andhra Pradesh. Similarly, actor Prachi Desai represents Goa tourism on the global map.
According to reports, Madhya Pradesh is trying to woo Abhishek Bachchan while Arunanchal Pradesh is keen on having “perfectionist” Aamir Khan as brand ambassador. Chhattisgarh is interested in roping former Miss Universe and actor Sushmita Sen.