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How a chief minister and a mega star transformed Gujarat tourism

The 'khushbu gujarat ki' campaign, envisioned by narendra modi and starring amitabh bachchan, was the first of its kind.

minister of tourism gujarat

Written by Vipul Mittra

minister of tourism gujarat

Gujarat is now considered one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. The turning point in the story of Gujarat tourism occurred due to a paradigm shift, initiated by then Chief Minister Narendra Modi . I vividly remember the vision laid out by him in 2009, when I called on him soon after taking over as Secretary of Tourism, Gujarat. The CM passionately narrated his experiences during his extensive travels in the state in his years as a party worker. Gujarat always had everything – a long coastline with pristine beaches, revered temples like Somnath, Dwarka, Pavagadh and Ambaji, dense forests including the Gir National Park, the only place where the Asiatic lion is extant and so much more. How come we haven’t been able to tap this vast treasure he asked.

The mandate was loud and clear — we had to do something substantial to bring about quantum growth in the sector. The CM had a clear vision — tourism was not merely a means to showcase the state but was to be an agent of change to bring about prosperity to the doorsteps of the people.

As luck would have it, around the same time, Amitabh Bachchan visited Gujarat for a special screening of his critically acclaimed film, Paa. During dinner, after the screening, the CM spoke eloquently about Gujarat and its tourist treasures and asked Amitabh Bachchan whether he would become the Brand Ambassador for Gujarat Tourism. Till that time, no other state had thought of roping in a big celebrity to promote its tourist spots. He graciously agreed to do so without charging a fee.

It was to be a tourism-centric, non-political campaign, named ‘Khushboo Gujarat Ki’ .

Festive offer

During the making of the films, the CM held several rounds of discussions with the creative team and gave his input about the destinations, culture, history and heritage of the places being filmed.

On the first day, the shooting started at Kirti Mandir, Gandhiji’s birthplace at Porbandar, on a hot summer afternoon in 42 degrees temperature. CM Modi was much concerned about the heat. He especially told us to take care of the health and safety of Amitabh Bachchan and the team.

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When the campaign was finally released, it became an instant hit. Soon, we followed up with another set of films covering other tourist destinations, festivals, handicrafts and several other aspects. A total of 22 films were shot in three schedules of the shoot.

The result was spectacular. Suddenly, the hidden treasures of Gujarat were unveiled to travellers from across India and abroad. The growth in tourism was phenomenal and path-breaking. There were thousands of prosperous Gujaratis living in metro cities or abroad who had not yet seen Gujarat, despite being the most prolific travellers. Now they started exploring their own state.

Before I end, I am reminded of an interesting incident. In 2013, we had gone to the White Rann of Kutch with Mr Bachchan and the team. It was our second visit to the same location, Dhordo, after a gap of three years, since the campaign was first released. Dhordo is a small village near the border, almost entirely inhabited by the minority community. As we were winding up, a large number of rural women in colourful Kutchi attire from Dhordo village came to see Amitabh Bachchan outside his tent. They looked blissfully happy as they stood folding their hands to greet us. Then, an old woman spoke in the Kutchi language, which was translated by the village sarpanch Miyan Hussain. She said, Earlier for generations, our daughters could not marry outside this taluka. We were poor. No cultivation. No rains. But this year we could marry our daughters to more developed towns in far-off places such as Rajkot and even Mumbai , with so much money that tourists bring in”. Bachchan was deeply touched. ‘Khushbu Gujarat Ki’ had literally transformed their lives in a matter of three years, in a region that had been arid and infertile for centuries. Such is the strength of tourism.

The writer is an IAS officer and a novelist. He was earlier Principal Secretary, Tourism, Gujarat. Views are personal

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Modi 3.0: From Amit Shah to Nimuben Bambhaniya, here are the four ministers from Gujarat

The third government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has got five ministers from Gujarat read more

Modi 3.0: From Amit Shah to Nimuben Bambhaniya, here are the four ministers from Gujarat

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inducted four cabinet berths and one minister of state from Gujarat in his new government on Sunday.

1. Amit Shah

Rank: Cabinet

Born on October 22, 1964, Amit Shah was the 31st Home Minister of India since 2019 and the first Minister of Cooperation since 2021.

In 2024, Shah won the Lok Sabha elections 2024 from Gujarat’s Gandhinagar seat with a margin of over 7.4 lakh votes against opponent Congress candidate Sonal Patel.

He was the President of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from 2014 to 2020 and has been the chairman of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) since 2014. Shah was elected to the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament, from Gandhinagar in the 2019 general elections. Prior to that, he served as a Rajya Sabha member from Gujarat from 2017 to 2019.

A key strategist for the BJP and a close ally of Narendra Modi, Shah was also a member of the Gujarat Legislative Assembly, representing Naranpura from 2012 to 2017 and Sarkhej from 1997 to 2012. In Modi’s ministry, he held various portfolios from 2002 to 2012, including Minister of State for Home, Law and Justice, Prison, Border Security, Civil Defence, Excise, Home Guards, Transport, Prohibition, Gram Rakshak Dal, Police Housing, Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Shah was in charge of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most significant state politically. The BJP-led NDA secured 73 out of 80 seats, boosting Shah’s profile, leading to his appointment as the BJP’s national president in July 2014. In the initial years, he has played a pivotal role in election campaigns across various states, securing victories in Maharashtra, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, and Assam. However, the BJP faced setbacks in Delhi and Bihar in 2015.

In 2017, Shah was credited with BJP’s victories in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, and Manipur, although the alliance with Akali Dal lost in Punjab. In 2018, the BJP lost power in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh. Under Shah’s leadership the following year, the BJP won 303 seats in the 2019 general elections, securing a majority.

2. S Jaishankar

Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, born on January 9, 1955, is a former Indian diplomat and politician served as the Minister of External Affairs for the Government of India since 30 May, 2019. Affiliated with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), he has been a Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha from 5 July, 2019. Jaishankar’s distinguished career includes a tenure as foreign secretary from January 2015 to January 2018, making him the second diplomat ever to hold the position of External Affairs Minister after Natwar Singh.

Jaishankar entered the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) in 1977. Over a career that spanned 38 years, he held numerous significant positions both in India and internationally. His roles included serving as High Commissioner to Singapore (2007–2009) and Ambassador to the Czech Republic (2001–2004), China (2009–2013), and the United States (2014–2015). He was instrumental in the negotiations leading to the Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement.

After retiring from the IFS, Jaishankar took on the role of President of Global Corporate Affairs at Tata Sons. His contributions to public service were recognised in 2019 when he was awarded the Padma Shri, India’s fourth-highest civilian award. Subsequently, he was appointed as a cabinet minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s second term, officially taking office as the Minister of External Affairs on 31 May, 2019. Notably, Jaishankar is the first former foreign secretary to serve as the head of the Ministry of External Affairs.

3. Mansukh Mandaviya

Mansukh Laxmanbhai Mandaviya, born on June 1, 1972, held the dual portfolios of Minister of Health and Family Welfare and the Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers of India. Additionally, he represents Gujarat in the Rajya Sabha.

Hailing from the quaint village of Hanol in the Palitana Taluka of Bhavnagar district, Gujarat, Mandaviya grew up in a middle-class farming family as the youngest of four brothers. His early education began at the Government Primary School in Hanol, followed by his secondary education at Songadh Gurukul.

Mandaviya pursued further studies in the field of veterinary science, obtaining a certificate in Veterinary Live Stock Inspector after his Higher Secondary Certificate. He continued his academic journey at Songadh Gurukul and Gujarat Agriculture University, where he also earned a Master’s degree in Political Science from Bhavnagar University. In 2021, he advanced his academic credentials by earning a Ph.D. in Political Science from the Gujarat Institute of Development Research.

4. CR Patil

Chandrakant Raghunath Patil, commonly known as C. R. Patil, is a three-time Member of Parliament representing Navsari in Gujarat. This year Patil won from the Navsari constituency with a margin of 7,73,551 votes. He secured a total of 10,31,065 votes. He has been the President of the BJP Gujarat State unit since 2020 making him the first non-Gujarati to hold this prestigious position.

Born on March 16, 1955, in Pimpry Akaraut village in Jalgaon district, Maharashtra, Patil completed his technical training at ITI in Surat following his schooling. Patil’s career in law enforcement began in 1975 when he joined the Gujarat Police as a constable, serving for 14 years. His political journey started with the BJP in 1989, and in 1991, he began his tenure at the Gujarati daily ‘Navgujarat Times’ before fully immersing himself in politics. Patil is proficient in Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi, and English.

Patil’s electoral records are notable, with his 2014 victory marked by the third-highest margin in Lok Sabha history at 558,116 votes, and his 2019 win with a staggering margin of 689,668 votes, the second-largest in electoral history. His political acumen led the BJP to a historic seventh consecutive victory in Gujarat in 2022, securing 156 out of 182 seats, the highest ever for any party in the state’s history. This feat, however, was short of his bold promise to resign if the BJP won fewer than 182 seats.

In 2013, Patil made history as the first Indian MP to achieve ISO 9001:2015 certification for quality management in the monitoring and administration of government services for his constituency, inspired by the Gujarat Chief Minister’s Office, which received the certification in 2009.

5. Nimuben Jayantibhai Bambhaniya

Rank: Minister of State

Nimuben Jayantibhai Bambhaniya is a BJP Member of Parliament representing the Bhavnagar Lok Sabha constituency. She won the 2024 general elections by defeating Umeshbhai Makwana of the Aam Aadmi Party with a margin of 455,289 votes.

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Gujarat CM unveils Cinematic Tourism Policy; Pacts worth ₹ 1,020 crore signed

The gujarat cinematic tourism policy scheme offers various financial and non-financial incentives for film infrastructure development projects and for film-making projects in the state.

Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel on Saturday unveiled the state’s first Cinematic Tourism Policy at an event in Gandhinagar where Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) worth ₹ 1,020 crore were signed between organisations and individuals with the department for the development of film infrastructure and film production.

Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel said that the Cinematic Tourism Policy will be useful for a self-reliant India by building a self-reliant Gujarat. (PTI FIle Photo)

Actor Ajay Devgan was the special guest at the event. The policy scheme offers various financial and non-financial incentives for film infrastructure development projects and for film-making projects.

The chief minister expressed confidence that this policy will be useful for a self-reliant India by building a self-reliant Gujarat. This policy will also give unprecedented boost to tourism development by bringing the service providers of film-making sector on one platform, he said in his address at the event.

In the case of film infrastructure projects, there is a capital subsidy up to 20 % to eligible projects without any upper limit. These projects could be setting up a film city, film and TV studio, film training institute and post production facilities. They can avail up to 100 acres of government land on lease and a 100% reimbursement on registration fees and Stamp Duty.

In the case of film-making projects, the scheme offers several incentives for various types of projects including movie making, brand affiliation, documentary films and television and web series. The scheme offers a reimbursement up to 25 % on the cost of production not exceeding ₹ 25 crore for shooting big budget movies in Gujarat. Also, there will be reimbursement of 20% on expenditure in Gujarat and not exceeding 25 crore for organising national and international Mega Film Award Events in Gujarat.

Those who signed the MoUs included Laxmi Films, Bollywood Hub and Ajay Devgn. These agreements are for projects including film making, studio infrastructure and setting up acting schools in Gujarat.

The state has planned to leverage its vibrant culture, archaeological heritage sites, the world’s tallest statue - Statue of Unity (SOU)- long coastline and great white salt desert, well-developed infrastructure and connectivity, and exploit proximity to the world’s largest film producing industry or Bollywood, according to a media release.

The amicable populace, well-developed infrastructure, connectivity and better law and order situation gives an edge to the state and now the state aims to establish Gujarat as a leading state for film makers across the world in all languages, it added.

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COMMENTS

  1. Welcome to Tourism Department, Government of Gujarat

    Gujarat is creating its unique position in the tourism sector in the country. Through New Tourism Policy - 2021-25, many facilities will be made available to the tourists in Gujarat in the near future. Gujarat is a policy driven state. Gujarat has announced a new tourism policy 2021-25 for the development of tourism sector in the state.

  2. Welcome to Gujarat Tourism

    Gujarat is a policy driven state. Gujarat has announced a new tourism policy 2021-25 for the development of the tourism sector in the state. Heritage policy has also been announced for the development of historical and ancient buildings in the state. Changes are made in the Home Stay Policy of the state so that tourists from across the world ...

  3. Contact Us

    Office Address. Shri Hareet Shukla (IAS) Principal Secretary (Tourism) 079-23250706. [email protected]. Block No. 5, 4th Floor, Sachivalaya, Sector - 10, Gandhinagar - 382 010. Ms. Saidingpuii Chhakchhuak (IAS) Managing Director & Commissioner of Tourism. 079-23222029.

  4. Purnesh Modi is the new Tourism Minister of Gujarat

    Out of the 24 ministers inducted in Gujarat CM Bhupendra Patel's cabinet yesterday, Purnesh Modi is going to lead as the Tourism Minister of Gujarat. ETTravelWorld. Updated On Sep 17, 2021 at 10:49 AM IST. Purnesh Modi is the new Tourism Minister of Gujarat. He is one of the prominent figures in the new Cabinet under the new Chief Minister ...

  5. Mulu Ayar Bera

    He is from Bhanvad and In 1995 at the age of 26 he became the minister of Gujarat government. In 2022 Gujarat legislative assembly elections he defeated Ishudan Gadhvi of AAP and also Vikaram Madam of Indian National Congress. He became the Cabinet Minister of Gujarat Government and allotted the portfolio of Tourism, Cultural Activities, Forest ...

  6. Growth rate of tourism industry in Gujarat at 18 pc today: Minister

    State Tourism Minister Mulu Bera Saturday said that the tourism industry in Gujarat has reached a growth rate of 18 per cent today compared to pre-2002 when it was "at the bottom". Speaking at the Tourism Conclave at the Pramukh Swami Shatabdi Mahotsav Bera credited Prime Minister Narendra Modi 's leadership under which "tourism opened ...

  7. Council of Ministers

    Minister, Tribal Development, Tourism, Forest, Women and Child Welfare., Swarnim Sankul-1 1st Floor: 6: Email Id:-Shri Saurabh Patel Minister, Energy, ... minister-agriculture[at]gujarat[dot]gov[dot]in: Swarnim Sankul-1 2nd Floor Sachivalya, Sector - 10, Gandhinagar 382010: 23250112 23250114 23250115 23250113 23258629

  8. Commissioner of Tourism

    Gujarat Tourism Policy Heritage Tourism Policy Cinematic Tourism Policy Home Stay Policy आतिथ्यम् - Tourist Footfall Tour Guide / Operator / LTC

  9. Gujarat Tourism (@GujaratTourism)

    The latest tweets from @GujaratTourism

  10. How a chief minister and a mega star transformed Gujarat tourism

    Written by Vipul Mittra. Gujarat is now considered one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. The turning point in the story of Gujarat tourism occurred due to a paradigm shift, initiated by then Chief Minister Narendra Modi.I vividly remember the vision laid out by him in 2009, when I called on him soon after taking over as Secretary of Tourism, Gujarat.

  11. New tourism policy 2021-25 announced in Gujarat

    AHMEDABAD: Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani announced the 'New Tourism Policy 2021-25' with a view to develop and augment tourism in a sustainable manner. The New Tourism Policy 2021-25 ...

  12. Tourism And Hospitality Sector Gets A Big Push

    Published on Sep 30, 2022 10:43 AM IST. The state government of Gujarat has announced a new tourism policy for 2021-25, with the theme 'Tourism Growth - Environmental Prosperity'. The new ...

  13. Gujarat CM calls for making the state tourism hub, felicitates Gujarat

    Claiming that Gujarat is the only state in India with maximum variety of tourism spots in the country, Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel on Sunday called for making the state an all-round tourism hub.

  14. Gujarat to launch new Cinematic Tourism Policy, draft likely to be

    Holistic & inclusive growth of tourism sector has come true in Gujarat: CM Bhupendra Patel at IATO Convention. Inaugurating the 36th IATO Convention in Gandhinagar, the Chief Minister of Gujarat expressed his vision of making the state an all-round tourism hub worldwide and a global destination for investment.

  15. Home

    The Ministry of Tourism is running a scheme under which National Tourism Awards are given to Travel Agents and Tour Operators including best Adventure Tour Operator, best Domestic Tour Operator, most Innovative Tour Operator ,Best Mice Operator, Tourist Transport Operator, best Hotels in the different categories, Outstanding performers in Publishing, etc. Awards are also given to the ...

  16. The meeting of 1st Tourism Working Group under India's G20 presidency

    The inaugural session was graced by the Chief Minister of Gujarat Sh. Bhupendra Bhai Patel, Minister of Tourism, Culture and DONER Sh. G. Kishan Reddy; and the Union Minister Shri Parshottam Rupala, Minister for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying. ... The Ministry of Tourism will be organizing the first Global Tourism Investors' Summit ...

  17. PDF Gujarat: A Roaring Lion of Tourism in India (State Series)

    Gujarat Tourism, in association with India Tourism, organised a familiarization tour from August 31 to September 04, 2021, for travel bloggers and photographers from Mumbai to Saputara, Gujarat. The objective of the trip was to promote the Ministry of Tourism's domestic tourism campaign Dekho Apna Desh. The tour further sought to promote the ...

  18. Tourism Sector: G20 Tourism Working Group Meeting starts in Gujarat

    The Rann of Kutch in Gujarat is all set to witness the congregation of the tourism sector representatives from the G20 countries during February 7 to 9, 2023. The 1st Tourism Working Group Meeting under G20 hosted by the Ministry of Tourism is expected to see more than 100 delegates attending the meeting, informed Arvind Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism.

  19. Purnesh Modi is the new Tourism Minister of Gujarat

    ETTravelWorld. Updated On Sep 17, 2021 at 04:52 PM IST. Purnesh Modi is the new Tourism Minister of Gujarat. He is one of the prominent figures in the new Cabinet under the new Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel. Apart from Tourism, Modi will handle important portfolios of Transport, Roads and Civil Aviation in the new Cabinet.

  20. Modi 3.0: From Amit Shah to Nimuben Bambhaniya, here are the four

    Rank: Cabinet. Born on October 22, 1964, Amit Shah was the 31st Home Minister of India since 2019 and the first Minister of Cooperation since 2021. In 2024, Shah won the Lok Sabha elections 2024 from Gujarat's Gandhinagar seat with a margin of over 7.4 lakh votes against opponent Congress candidate Sonal Patel.

  21. Gujarat CM unveils Cinematic Tourism Policy; Pacts worth

    Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel said that the Cinematic Tourism Policy will be useful for a self-reliant India by building a self-reliant Gujarat. (PTI FIle Photo) Actor Ajay Devgan was the ...

  22. Gujarat Tourism appoints Alok Kumar Pandey as Managing Director

    In a recent reshuffle, the Gujarat government had promoted and transferred nine IAS officers including changes at Gujarat Tourism and Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA). Jenu Devan, Managing Director of the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Ltd has been promoted and appointed as the Superintendent of Stamps and Inspector General of Registration at Gandhinagar.

  23. Press Information Bureau

    National Digital Tourism Mission (NDTM) is being formulated to ensure the digitalisation of the Tourism sector in Mission Mode: Shri G.K Reddy. The Inaugural session of the 1st Tourism Working Group Meeting under G20 hosted by the Ministry of Tourism was held at Rann of Kutch, Gujarat today morning. The inaugural session was addressed by Union ...

  24. Ministry of Tourism to organise its first G-20 Tourism Working Group

    Under the framework of G20, Ministry of Tourism will organise its first Tourism Working Group meeting from 7 th to 9 th February 2023 in Rann of Kutch, Gujarat. Briefing the Media in New Delhi today, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Shri Arvind Singh said that in G20, there are 5 inter related priority areas for tourism .