If govt reduces location charges, Kerala can bloom as film tourism destination: Pradeep Marx

Pradeep Munnar Holidays

Film tourism is the new way to market a destination. Just like farm tourism, dental tourism, medical tourism, adventure tourism, eco-tourism and cultural tourism, the concept of film tourism is another fragment of travel. When a viewer gets induced to visit a particular location after seeing it in a movie, it is termed as ‘Film Tourism’. India has probably the largest number of film producers in the world and we also a have some of the finest bunch of actors of all time, who have fans all over the world.

I am also working as a production manager, being a member of the Film Employees Federation of South India (FEFSI). I have worked for more than 40 films in Munnar as a location manager by proving ground support to the crew. Film tourism offers several direct and indirect employment and revenue to the state. The hospitality & tourism industry will benefit from this. Hotels, resorts, cab operators, local shop vendors & the local community will benefit.

The minimum crew size will be 100 persons and the shoot may last from 2 to 30 days as per the budget and location. We can imagine the turnover and revenue generated if 100 to 200 people (almost 50 to 100 rooms on an average) stay in a destination for 10 to 30 days. All hoteliers from budget level to five star segment will benefit. So will taxi operators. Moreover the government bodies will get additional revenue as location charges while shooting in forests, dams, lakes, water falls etc. Even the private properties will benefit as they can rent out their place for the shoot.

Film tourism can be understood as a concept in which entertainment and travel industry are benefited simultaneously. We can promote our major tourism destinations like Munnar, Athirapally, Kovalam, Alleppey, Thekkady, Vagamon, Trivandrum, Kochi, Wayanad etc as part of film tourism. Kerala’s icons like house boats, culture, various art forms will be highlighted in the films, and it will give us a free advertisement. Of course, we can earn good revenue too from film tourism.

We have good scope for film tourism in Kerala. We had done five projects last year, and were about to start new projects in March. But due to COVID-19 plans these plans have been dropped as of now.

Our state has to come up with attractive packages to woo film producers to Kerala. The producers find location charges in Kerala to be a bit expensive compared to other destinations like Ooty, Kodaikanal, Himachal, Goa, Sri Lanka and Thailand which are attracting more crews these days. Our government should reduce the cost of the location charges and make it affordable.

Some of the other states are luring these producers by offering benefits. If a film is made in Jharkhand in Hindi or any other regional language it will be given a grant amounting to 25% of the total cost of filmmaking. If films are shot in Jharkhand for more than half the total number of shooting days, they will get a grant of Rs 1 crore and if it is two-thirds then a sum of Rs 2 crore is granted. UP has decided give a grant of Rs 50 lakh for films shot in the state, for any film made in Hindi, regional languages or English. Himachal Pradesh has decided to provide up to Rs 2 crore for movies made in English or Hindi in the state, subject to the condition that at least 50% of the movie is shot in the state. Movies made in regional dialects can get Rs 50 lakh.

(Column by Pradeep K Marx,Proprietor,Munnar Holidays,Munnar)