New Delhi: Film star Amitabh Bachchan will be the new face to promote India tourism, it is learnt. In a first, the union government will directly approach Bachchan for becoming the brand ambassador of 'Athithi Devo Bhava', a campaign to create awareness about places of tourism interest in the country, according to sources. The actor, who already promotes Gujarat Tourism, has indicated he would do the endorsement without charging a fee. So far, brand ambassadors for government projects, including in tourism, have been chosen through creative agencies. Even Aamir Khan, who is now being replaced by Bachchan, was selected through McCann Worldwide. Khan's removal is being attributed to his remark made in November 2015 on ''rising intolerance in India''. Khan had not taken a fee for the campaign either. Last July, Bachchan was in the midst of a controversy over his Rs 6.31 crore deal with Doordarshan for endorsing the DD Kisan channel. Subsequently, Lintas, the ad agency for the project, said that Bachchan had decided to do the endorsement free of charge. The tourism ministry is expected to formally strike an agreement with Bachchan within a week, a source said. Although the terms of the pact are not known, the agreement may be for a period of five years. Meanwhile, Aamir Khan said on Thursday that he respects the ''government's decision to discontinue his services'', thereby countering the tourism ministry version on the matter a day ago. On Wednesday, tourism ministry had said that its contract was with McCann Worldwide and that it was not for the government to decide who should be the brand ambassador for Incredible India. Tourism minister for state Mahesh Sharma had tweeted that ''Aamir Khan ceases to be the mascot for government's Incredible India campaign, contract for which has expired.'' The ministry did not hire Aamir Khan, Sharma said. Khan, who has been the mascot for the campaign for 10 years, said in a statement, "it is the prerogative of the government to decide whether they need a brand ambassador for any campaign, and if so, who that ambassador should be.'' He added, ''I respect the decision of the government to discontinue with my services. I am sure they will take all appropriate steps to do what is best for the country." Khan also said, "I was happy to be of service to my country, and will always be available for it?. I would like to clarify that all public service films I have done till date have all been free of any cost to me?.Whether I am brand ambassador or not, India will remain Incredible, and that's the way it should be," he said. Prasoon Joshi, lyricist, screen-writer, and chairman of McCann Worldgroup, Asia-Pacifc, told Business Standard in a text message yesterday that ''McCann had a contract with ministry of tourism for athithi devo bhava which we have delivered''. Joshi has worked closely with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on some key campaigns.
Amitabh Bachchan Replaces Aamir Khan As 'Incredible India' Ambassador
Updated : 7 Jan 2016 5:48 PM GMT