I am little surprised and amused at the same time; Prachi Desai – Goa Tourism Ambassador. According to Swapnil Naik, director, Goa Tourism, “She is fit to be the brand ambassador of Goa which is visited by many youngsters. She is modern and still has traditional values”.
I would like to understand by what yardstick has the new tourism minister, who frankly seems like a fish out of water and director of tourism has measured that Ms Desai is the most suitable brand ambassador to promote Goa. Prachi Desai hails from Valsad in Gujarat. Isn’t it surprising that we need a Gujarati to promote Goa; I suppose Gujarat Tourism will be looking for Charmaine Shackleton?
The million dollar question is why Ms Desai of all the options available?
Would it be because her Saas Bahu fan following which has a large female fan following among the age group of 21-60 in India and NRI markets , but very little in Goa or based on her three movies which had nothing to say or do on Goa. Or better still as some hush-hush voices in the government corridors mentioned that it is an effort on the government to clean the image of Goa being about bikinis, drugs and wild parties.
If the third logic is to be looked at, the government would like us to believe that there was no worthy local Goan youth icon with national and international appeal to carry the torch that we had to turn to Bollywood like International Tourism destination have done to tap the Indian tourist (Celina Jaitely for Egypt, Anil Kapoor for South Africa). While for the international destination it makes perfect sense to do something of that nature, domestic tourism in Goa has always been on an upswing, you wouldn’t need Bollywood to promote Goa. In fact Bollywood looks towards Goa to create the glamour and international appeal for their movies.
If it is to cater to the international market of NRIs, may be it would make sense because some staunch followers of the Indian culture believe that females – Indian or International must venture in our beaches adorned with salwar-kameez, large ornaments and of course loads of make-up just like Ms Desai and other Saas Bahus actors. Bikinis are not our culture, is the mantra. But what about family values, which most of the soap operas and reality shows of which Ms Desai has been apart have nothing to do with our Goan or Indian culture; besides showcasing manipulation in families and teaching children that this generation is about television appearances, reality shows and glamour, not necessarily about studies.
And if we have to cater to the gaping hole in our International Market figures, then Ms Desai in a Salwar Kameez is of no appeal to the Europeans specially the Russians that the tourism department has been trying so hard to tap while killing the other cleaner European tourist markets.
Ms Desai must be a wonderful person and an even wonderful actress, she certainly has the appeal whether or not it translates into business is a big question. In fact she should be recommended as the tourism brand ambassador for India but I guess on that front she might get tough competition from the likes of Rais and Sens. So I suppose it would have been prudent on her agency part to chose what Ms Desai is getting, for some money is better than no money. Because of course Ms Desai will not be playing brand ambassador for free.
Mr Naik it would be nice to know how much of the Goa taxpayers money has been spent of our non-Goan brand ambassador.