As part of Film Bazaar’s initiative to promote India as a filming destination, a film tourism workshop was conducted for the first time with local and international experts sharing their insight on various aspects of film tourism.

The three-day crash course, which wrapped on Friday, was presented to Incredible India delegates from the Ministry of Tourism as well as high level tourism government officials from four states, including Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Gujarat.

While India’s dynamic film industry offers great potential for tourism, it is a market that has not been tapped on. The workshop addressed some of the recurring issues facing the country, from incentives, marketing strategies to production infrastructure and manpower.

“With a huge filmmaking tradition, India can start at an advantageous position. The link between film and tourism is not new to them. But what’s new is to coordinate the strategies for getting more international films and to sort out the ministerial problems such as filming permissions,” says Ruth Harley, former CEO of both Screen Australia and New Zealand Film Commission.

She co-presented with Gisella Carr, former CEO of Film New Zealand, at the workshop case studies on how the filming of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit has completely changed New Zealand’s tourism landscape and on the economic benefits that brought forth.

Unlike New Zealand, India has a much bigger market for not only international tourism but also domestic tourism, which is linked to local productions. However, a considerable number of local productions are filmed outside India every year, in countries from Switzerland, South Africa to Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand.

“It’s getting competitive in the region. How do we keep local productions within India while at the same time, attracting foreign productions?” said Uday Singh [pictured], managing director of Motion Picture Association (India Office).

He offered a step-by-step solution. “First, bring the ease of doing business and make it easy for the filmmakers. Then incentivize them with cash rebates, grants or tax credits. The business will come automatically,” he told Screen.

“The majority of the 29 states within India have multiple bodies for clearance. Only a few have established a single point of clearance, such as Gujarat, Pondicherry where Life of Pi was shot and Goa where The Bourne Supremacy was shot,” he said.

Rezal Rehman, CEO of Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios offered some advice for staffing for filmmakers’ needs. “Make sure there are industry people in the team who can understand customer’s needs. Film Tourism is only after the fact – a film needs to be made first in a film-friendly environment.”