Bikini-clad women return to promote Goa’s tourism

2011-07-07 13:26

Panaji, India – The Indian resort state of Goa is to return to using bikini-clad women to promote tourism, an official said today, following a self-imposed ban on using scantily-clad models for publicity.

Tourism director Swapnil Naik said a nine-week television ad campaign featuring a Miss India finalist, an Indian actress and a former Miss Russia would be launched in 140 countries in Europe, Africa and Asia next Monday.

The two models are shown in the 30-second commercial in the two-piece swimwear soaking up the sun on Goa’s popular beaches, which was previewed to the media in the state capital Panaji today.

The state government and tourism authorities vetoed ads using women in bikinis in January last year to counter popular perceptions of Goa as a destination where there is easy access to sex and drugs.

The ban followed a spate of high-profile crimes against women.

Naik told reporters that the forthcoming campaign was “an exception” as it would be shown abroad.

“We have also included a lot of other things (in the advert) like churches and hinterland in the campaign,” he added. “The attempt is to portray Goa as a bouquet of experiences.”

Foreign tourists have been coming in increasing numbers to tiny Goa, in western India, since the days of the hippie trail in the 1960s, attracted by its long, sandy beaches and relaxed atmosphere.

Its reputation took a blow last week, however, when scientists warned that water off the beaches was unfit for bathing or fishing because of high levels of bacteria from untreated sewage.

Nearly 450?000 overseas visitors came to the state in the last tourist season, which ended in May, Naik said.

Most came from Russia, Britain and Germany.

A second ad campaign aiming to make local people more hospitable to foreign visitors would be shown on domestic television, he added.

Separately, Naik said the state was looking to twin with Navarre, in northern Spain, which is the birthplace of St Francis Xavier, a leading Jesuit missionary whose bones are housed in a 16th century Goa church.

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