By Gurmukh Singh
VANCOUVER: With Bollywood increasingly opting to shoot films in foreign locales with firang girls, a small Canadian town on Vancouver Island has joined the race to woo Indian filmmakers.
“We would love Bollywood to come here to shoot films. We offer which no other place offers in terms of scenic beauty, pristine harbour and coastline, mild climate, golf courses, snow-clad mountains, best seafood in the world and locally brewed beers,’’ says Paul Ives, mayor of Comox town on Vancouver Island.
The town, which gets its name from the native Indian tribe of Comox, is hosting its annual 10-day British Columbia Shellfish and Seafood Festival to woo tourists from around the world.
Though many Hindi and Punjabi films have been shot in Vancouver and Toronto in recent years, the mayor says Comox and the surrounding Comox Valley – just half an hour flight from Vancouver – are ready to roll the welcome carpet for Bollywood and Indian tourists.
“I would love to go to India as part of any Canadian trade mission to woo Bollywood to come and shoot in Comox,’’ says the mayor.
“Tourism from India to Canada is picking up rapidly. But most of these visitors travel only to Vancouver and many surrounding areas, including the world-famous ski resort of Whistler. We are trying to get them here and they will love the Comox Valley,’’ says Brent Curtain who is the marketing manager for tourism and development for the Comox Valley.
Curtain, who has visited Manali, Dharmshala and many other places in India, says his town is aiming to target well-off Indian tourists who now choose destinations in Europe, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. “Comox offers much more than other destinations to tourists. Seafood is our unique selling point. We have the world’s best salmon. In terms of accommodation, there is no problem for budget tourists and Bollywood celebrities,’‘ says Curtain.
Steve East, who is the chairman of the local chamber of commerce, adds, “No other tourist place in the world offers visitors the facilities to ski, kayak and golf at the same place and on the same day. But here in Comox, tourists can ski, kayak and golf on the same day. All these facilities are within half an hour drive from each other.’’ Whale-watching in the ocean is another favourite with tourists to Comox.
“Moreover, we also operate unique tours for tourists to try their hand at gold-panning and experience the life of the native Indians, including their smoked salmon and tradition bread of bannock. Chinese tourists love this experience and we would love Indians also to come here to enjoy this unparalleled experience,’’ says the chamber of commerce chairman.
Though there are hardly any Indo-Canadians in Comox, Indian tourists can find the choicest Indian food at Spice Hut and the Manvirro Indian Grill.