When Old Blighty hires someone with a decidedly sing-song Indian accent to be its goodwill tourism ambassador, he's perfectly entitled to say: “I would dare say I know the heart of London better than I know Mumbai.”
That was the uber cool, quotatable quote by director and TV presenter Karan Johar.
VisitBritain, Britain's national tourism agency, is going all out to draw visitors deeper into the country, beyond the confines of London. The coming year will have big events — the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. And we're all yet to get over the royal wedding.
On Monday, the agency announced the launch of its Goodwill Ambassador programme in Bangalore in conjunction with its “Britain -You're Invited” campaign.
Karan Johar, Asha Gill (remember Six Degrees on Travel and Living?) and Alex Hua Tian, Olympic equestrian, were introduced as the ambassadors by Sandie Dawe, VisitBritain's Chief Executive.
They certainly couldn't have picked a better ambassador than K Jo, who had been holidaying in London as a child and shot many of his successful films like Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham there.
In his new role, he recommended some serious retail therapy in London. In fact he set the precedent in Bollywood by shopping there for the actors' costumes for his debut film, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.
Ms. Dawe reeled out the figures — in 2010, over 3,66,000 Indians travelled to Britain, spending ?358 million but conceded that research had shown that the country has been perceived as “neither fun nor friendly”. This campaign to change this surly image.
Karan Johar gushed that London is where he feels like home. “We're invited,” he beamed.