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Spain joins forces with Bollywood to boost tourism

MADRID – Spain is coaxing Indian moviemakers to use its colourful fiestas and historic monuments as settings for their films, in a move to grab a bigger share of India’s fast-growing overseas tourism market.

As part of its bid to lure visitors from the world’s second most populous country, Madrid will host next weekend the annual International Indian Film Academy awards, dubbed the “Bollywood Oscars”.

In global tourism, Spain ranks as the third most visited country, but it now wants to diversify its tourism base beyond the traditional northern European sunseekers that account for the bulk of its visitors.

Among the Bollywood stars who will attend the awards ceremony in Spain will be hunky Indian actor Hrithik Roshan, the green-eyed star of the 2011 coming-of-age movie “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara”, which was produced in close collaboration with the Spanish tourism promotion agency, Turespana.

The film about three friends on a pre-marriage road trip across Spain includes scenes at “La Tomatina” festival in the town of Bunol, where half-naked revellers hurl mushy tomatoes at each other, as well as at Pamplona’s San Fermin bull running festival.

With scenes also set in Barcelona, Seville and the beaches of the Costa Brava, the movie was the first major Indian production to shoot extensively in various locations in Spain.

It was also the highest grossing Bollywood film of 2011.

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