India's tourists flock to Spain

India's tourists flock to Spain

Bollywood summer blockbuster "Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara" entices thousands of Indians to visit Spain
Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara
La Tomatina, the tomato-throwing festival, was re-created in Buñol in Valencia for the film.

Having released on July 15, "Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara" has boosted Spanish tourism from India by 32 percent this year -- especially at its on-shoot locations. 

Directed by Zoya Akhtar, and starring Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif, the movie -- called "You Only Live Once" in English -- depicts three friends on a bachelor road trip. The scenery includes popular spots in Costa Brava, Valencia and Seville in Spain.

"During the first six months of 2011, we have seen a growth of 32 per cent in traffic, and after the release of the movie we are hopeful that we will see further growth," said Madhu Saliankar, market analyst, Spain Tourism in Mumbai.

La Tomatina, the tomato-throwing festival, was re-created in Buñol in Valencia for the film. Some 16 tons of tomatoes were flown in specially from Portugal, thanks to the movie's government tie-up. 

However, the Spanish government does not usually partner with commercial ventures.

"The theme of the movie was about a holiday in Spain -- we saw it fits with the storyline and we collaborated with the producers of the film," said Saliankar.

Many tour operators in India have launched tailored adventure tour packages to Spain from India that include deep sea diving, flamenco dancing, skydiving and bull fighting as seen in the film. 

“There has been a surge in demand and we do have several packages for Spain, but this is the first time we have organized an exclusive package to the La Tomatina festival," said Kashmira Commissariat, chief operating officer of Kuoni India, a leading travel tour company.

The power of Bollywood to boost outbound Indian tourism has been recognized in previous decades. 

Yash Chopra, one of the first Indian filmmakers to shoot extensively abroad, was even awarded a Swiss honor in 2010 as his films had done so much to promote Switzerland.  

At the moment there are no non-stop flights between India and Spain, however Indian carriers are said to want to introduce them soon. 

Poorna Harjani is a graduate from the London School of Economics. Her nomadic tendencies have often led her to wake up at night, pack her signature red suitcase and book a trip to an exotic metropolis somewhere.

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