New Delhi: A brand ambassador himself for decades, Telugu superstar K Chiranjeevi Thursday took charge of the Tourism Ministry and began selling `Incredible India` by promising to increase the number of tourist arrivals and easing restrictions for film shooting in the country.
It was action from the word `start` for the 57-year-old actor, who resolved to use his "glamour quotient" and decades of experience in the tinsel world to improve tourism infrastructure and increase to 1 per cent the total number of tourists to India worldwide.
After assuming office, Chiranjeevi did some plain speaking when he said the "full capacity" of the tourism industry is not being realised and promised to remove "bottlenecks" which are impeding the growth of the sector after talking to his colleagues in other ministries.
"India has everything, from mountains to backwaters to monuments. How far are we making use of them? Certainly not to the fullest of the capacity. Currently, India receives only 0.65 per cent of tourist arrivals in the world. If we make it to 1 per cent then it would be a big achievement," he said.
Increasing the figure to 1 per cent would mean generation of employment for an additional 2.5 crore people, substantial increase in tourism sector`s contribution to the country`s the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from the current 6.5 per cent to 10 per cent, the new Minister said.
He said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told him that he was chosen to head the Tourism Ministry because he himself was a "brand ambassador" and the "glamour quotient" which is attached to him.
The actor-turned-politician also had some good news in store for the film industry when he said he would work towards easing restrictions on film shooting in the country by talking to his counterparts in other Ministries.
Shooting in foreign countries like Bangkok is much cheaper than shooting in India, he noted.