Incentives for shooting abroad

International destinations are attracting Indian film production houses not just with rebates, but they are incentivising them to shoot in their country by offering ease of business and easy group visas. Abhijeet Patil, Chairman, Raja Rani Travels & Globe Hoppers, highlights these destinations and their offerings.

Hazel Jain

The main focus of Abhijeet Patil, Chairman, Raja Rani Travels & Globe Hoppers, is film and wedding tourism vertical. Having interacted with a lot of National Tourist Organisations (NTOs) and Film Commissions of various countries, he underlines some of the key ones that offer huge incentives to lure the big machinery that is Bollywood, Tollywood, and OTT platforms.  He says, “International tourism boards and their film commissions have addressed the potential of film shoots scientifically and post-COVID I see that Indian films and weddings have been given top priority by them. Generally, a destination approaches film producers with many aspects that actually go into a successful shoot. They generally fall into four or five categories. The first one is rebates or incentives and we have success stories of shoots in the UK, Abu Dhabi, Mauritius, Thailand, Austria, and Spain – all having successful rebate mechanisms that are methodically implemented.”

Ease of business

He says that a lot of other countries such as Turkey and Eastern Bloc ones are following up with their own rebate mechanisms.

“A lot of them are putting paramount importance on ease of business, which is vitally missing in India. Single-window clearances and ease of business is something the Indian Ministry of Tourism and our states use very callously and casually. Their intentions may be right but at the end of the day nothing is really implemented. We really need to look at international case studies and how they are attracting Indian producers. But internationally, ease of business is very well understood,” Patil adds.

For instance, Mauritius has a healthy 30-40 per cent rebate mechanism, and it is a visa neutral destination for Indian passport holders, and very film shoot friendly. “Globally, everyone needs to form a company in that country and a bank account to be eligible to receive rebate as per laws. That becomes cumbersome. So, within 48 hours, Mauritius addressed this issue and offered us the option to open a bank account at State Bank of Mauritius HO here in Mumbai. This is ease of business!” Patil explains.

Rebate not everything

Yes, rebate does become a key point but it should not become the base of understanding film tourism, Patil says.

Sri Lanka had a rebate mechanism before their economic meltdown. But they bring in other aspects like easy visas, proximity to India and great infrastructure.

“It also depends on how big the production house is. For someone like Yash Raj Films, every destination lays down the red carpet. Moscow is currently not offering any rebate. UK and Mauritius have their own central policy. In Spain, various destinations and regional tourism boards offer their own rebates. Similarly, Italy various incentives or barters or shoots are handled by film commissions of various regions in Italy.
Likewise in Russia, Moscow has its own independent mechanism to attract production houses,” Patil explains.

“When a big-ticket entity like Yash Raj shoots in St Petersburg, the apex body of the Russian cultural arm steps in and handholds it. But otherwise, destinations in Russia would be addressed by their local city or local region heads. So, as of now, there is no rebate mechanism but what they are offering are phenomenal other aspects. It’s not only about rebate. There are a lot of other factors that go into it like ease of visa processing, Russia has just made theirs an e-visa. Similarly, they are building not one, not two but three world-class film cities. Huge money is being put into the infrastructure and they are giving a patient hearing to Indians to map Indian sensibilities in those film cities,” Patil explains.



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