Barbados is vying to host the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Awards in 2015.

Described as one of India???s largest and most prestigious events, the IIFA Awards are staged annually by the International Indian Film Academy to honour artistic and technical excellence in Bollywood ??? the Indian film industry.

The three-day extravaganza attracts hundreds of stars, thousands of fans and scores of representatives from international media houses. It is seen as the epitome of glitz and glamour, as audiences are treated to dynamic performances, intriguing film screenings, musical showcases, award ceremonies, and industry workshops.

Held each year in a different country, the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) in partnership with the Barbadian Government, is seeking to add this exquisite event to Barbados’ cultural offerings in the next two years.

Recently, Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley, and Senior Officials of the BCCI met with some of the Directors of IIFA in Barbados. During the meeting, which was also attended by ministry officials and private sector stakeholders, the numerous benefits to be derived from staging this event were outlined.

Project Head of IIFA, Noreen Khan, explained the rationale behind the hosting of the IIFA Awards in different countries. ???IIFA???s vision is to build bridges across cinemas, communities, businesses, and nations to create a one people, one world alliance,??? she said.

To date, the IIFA Awards have been staged in London, United Kingdom; Sun City and Johannesburg, South Africa; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Bangkok, Thailand; Toronto, Canada; Malaysia; Singapore; Dubai; Sri Lanka and Macau. Next year, the event will be held in Tampa, Florida.

According to Ms. Khan, IIFA???s success is largely because of Bollywood???s popularity around the world. She pointed out, ???More and more international brands are recognising the power of Indian celebrities and the Indian diaspora.???

She also revealed that ???Bollywood released 1300 films last year in comparison to Hollywood???s 400. ???Bollywood is one of the largest film industries in the world. It sells 4.8 billion cinema tickets [and its] films are released in over 45 countries, with the North American market contributing to 25 per cent of international box office sales.???

The IIFA Project Head said the event offered tremendous value to the host destination.

???IIFA brings to the host destination global awareness, a boost in tourism, a huge boost in business and trade prospects with India and other global businesses, destination marketing, brand positioning of Barbados in the eyes and minds of the Indian diaspora and short term economic impact to local businesses,??? she outlined.

???Half a billion Indians are traveling abroad and looking for new destinations to visit,??? Ms. Khan said, adding that if IIFA was to be staged in Barbados, that target group would be exposed to the island.

But in addition to those advantages, IIFA has the ability to directly benefit the host country???s population. ???There are huge amounts of opportunities that we like to create to ensure the people of the destination don???t feel alienated,??? she stressed.??

According to her, benefits could accrue from the use of the city???s infrastructure, cultural exchanges, educational outreaches,??scholarships and the opportunity for a co-production treaty, which could see Indian filmmakers using Barbados as a film location.??

The IIFA???s Project Head, noted that the Indian film industry spends $US400 million a year on overseas shoots and over 100 Bollywood films are shot outside of India.??

???They are always looking for new countries; a film production could spend anything between $500,000 to $10 million, depending on the shoot schedule. So, a co-production treaty would be a great deal for Barbados,??? she surmised.

???We also create opportunities and new jobs in film, events, and entertainment. Through the IIFA weekend in Toronto, we created over 750 jobs during that period alone in security, production, hospitality, public relations, catering and more,??? she added.

During the three-day event, interactive film and music workshops with India???s finest filmmakers and musicians are usually held. Ms. Khan reasoned such sessions would??benefit the local community as participants would learn about the art of Indian filmmaking, the development of Indian cinema and receive the chance to network and create exchanges with industry professionals.??

All the advantages associated with the possible staging of the IIFA awards make this a worthwhile venture for Barbados. However, the country would need to satisfy a number of logistical requirements to be successful. While on the island, the IIFA directors visited several event venues, hotels and villas, and met with ministerial and private sector stakeholders.

Other countries bidding to host IIFA 2015 are Brazil, London, United Kingdom; Sydney, Australia and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Minister Lashley believes that the hosting of this world class event would generate employment and business opportunities for Barbadians while offering a tremendous boost to the island as a film destination. He indicated, ???It will also give Barbados a great opportunity to market itself before a potential international television audience of some 800 million people, since the show is carried live across several countries.???

This he said, offers significant potential to several sectors including Culture, Tourism and Trade. “Not only will tourism arrivals stand to be boosted, but there are numerous potential benefits that can be derived from this legacy in business collaboration and trade agreements with India,” he said.??

The Culture Minister added that the IIFA event also offers the opportunity for the development of a mutually beneficial cultural relationship between Barbados and India through cultural exchanges.

Author: Shamkoe Pil??

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