Himachal Pradesh is trying to rope in Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut, who hails from the state, as a brand ambassador for promoting tourism, an official said on Wednesday. "We are planning to hire Kangana Ranaut as a brand ambassador as it's going to help us practically, like Gujarat benefited from its brand ambassador Amitabh Bachchan," Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Board vice chairman Vijai Singh Mankotia told reporters. Kangana's family home is in Bhambla village near Hamirpur, some 200 km from Shimla. Mankotia said that the government was preparing a master plan to cash in on the tourism potential of water reservoirs in the state. "The private sector has shown interest and we may engage private players in translating the idea into action," he said. The former tourism minister admitted that bad roads and poor air connectivity to the hill state were stumbling blocks to promote tourism.
"The Shimla airport is not functioning for over two years now. The Airports Authority of India has not taken any measures. As a result, tourism to Himachal is suffering," he added. On hosting apple festivals in Shimla and Manali, he said, "It's an apple state, and we need to sell that name for tourism. With the apple festival this time, we are planning to club the home stays in apple orchards during that period." Mankotia said that the tourism department for the first time would host the Himalayan Mega Mart (of the Himalayan states) to showcase their tourism potential, a Himalayan car rally and Asian river rafting this year to promote tourism. Tourist arrivals in Himachal Pradesh every year surpass the state's population of about 6.8 million. As for Kangana, on Himachal Pradesh Day, the actress was honoured by the state government. While she wasn't able to be present during the ceremony, her parents attended the event on behalf of her. The National Award-winning actress is currently busy promoting her upcoming film, Aanand L Rai's Tanu Weds Manu Returns.