Priests to be Uttar Pradesh tourism brand ambassadors

Drivers, porters, hotel workers will also be roped in for promoting tourism.

Lucknow: The UP Tourism department in Uttar Pradesh has decided to move away from the practice of appointing celebrities as ambassadors of the tourism sectors. The department will now appoint priests, known as ‘pandas’ in the local parlance, for places of religious significance in the state.

For the Ramayana, Krishna and Buddha circuit in Uttar Pradesh, the tourism department will focus on local people as brand ambassadors.

“They could be Buddhist monks in Sarnath, ‘pandas’ in Vrindavan and even boatmen in Ayodhya. The idea is to cultivate the local people and ensure job opportunities for them. This will also increase their involvement in the tourist activities in their areas,” said principal tourism Secretary Navneet Sehgal.

The department is also toying with the idea of getting taxi drivers, porters, hotel workers and even rickshaw puller to serve as brand ambassadors.

“These are the people who interact regularly with the tourists and if they can double up as guides, they will not only earn more money but the tourist will also be comfortable with them”, the official said. The three circuits in the state are spread across Kapilvastu, Kaushambhi, Kushinagar Sarnath, Shravasti, Mathura, Vrin-davan, Ayodhya and Chitrakoot.

“Training for tourist ambassadors has been started in over ten cities. We are training the local ambassadors to communicated with tourists— both Indian and foreign — and also the basics of etiquette. Information about the place and temples in the areas and its religious and historical significance is also been given. Some such ambassadors have expressed a desire to learn some foreign language and we are making arrangements for this”, he said.

According to tourism officials, the presence of a celebrity in the tourism campaign does attract eyeball but people also are aware that the celebrity is no directly involved with the place and is doing the campaign for money.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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