Amitabh's endorsement lures tourists to Gujarat's Gir Wildlife Sanctuary
Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan's endorsement of Gujarat as an ideal tourist destination is attracting thousands of tourists to the Sasan Gir Wildlife Sanctuary in Junagadh District.
The forest department has doubled the daily permit quotas for entry to the sanctuary to meet the heavy tourist rush.
Officials said all hotels and resorts in the area are booked till mid-November and credited Bachchan's promotion of the State as the reason for the huge tourist inflow.
"A Bollywood superstar like Amitabh Bachchan was made the brand ambassador of Gujarat state. This created worldwide awareness, attracting tourists from all over the world to Gir forests," said Sandeep Kumar, Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF), Sasan Gir Forest.
"Every hotel and restaurant near the Gir Wildlife Reserve has been booked. This proves that good response we are getting due to the advertisement. The permit to enter the Gir jungle has also been booked to its maximum capacity," he added.
Tourists however, said the lack of accommodation is a problem.
"This place is heavily crowded. We are not getting a hotel to stay here because of the crowd," said Hasrat Khan, a tourist from Rajashthan.
Although the 'Khusboo Gujarat Ki' campaign, a series of tourism advertisements featuring Amitabh Bachchan, was a success, tourists complained of commercial exploitation by hotels and restaurants.
The Sasan Gir Wildlife Sanctuary is the only place where the Asiatic Lions exist in their natural habitat. By Hanif Khokhar
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