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West Bengal can be a tourist destination: Minister

Posted on Dec 05, 06:02PM | IBNS

West Bengal Tourism Minister Krishnendu Narayan Choudhury on Wednesday stressed that everyone should work together to take the state to a new height as a tourist destination.

"West Bengal has immense potential as a tourism destination," Choudhury said at an interaction with the tourism subcommittee of CII Eastern Region in Kolkata. "This is our state and we need to take it to a new height."

Choudhury said West Bengal has mountains, forests, sea, rivers, mangroves, it is the home of many eminent personalities and all the stakeholders need to come together to put the state prominently on the tourism map of India.

The minister asked for suggestions from the stakeholders present for increasing tourism services/ activities in the beaches.

He said that the department is looking at helicopter services in the Sunderbans and the hills.

He also invited investments from the hospitality industry for opening hotels, resorts, and homestays in the outskirts of Darjeeling for sustaining the increasing footfalls to the hills.

While speaking to the tourism stakeholders, Choudhury outlined plans of increasing safaris in Dooars.

He also spoke about highlighting Bengal as a part of the Buddhist circuit now that the excavation of a Buddhist monastery in Malda is in progress.

Choudhury said the state government may work closely with Bangladesh on this.

The newly appointed tourism minister said that the department is mooting the idea about starting tours of the residences/ places of work of famous iconic personalities of Bengal like Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore, Mother Teresa and others.

He said that he is keen to start on the concept of "school tourism" wherein schools can organize half day, full day excursions for students to the various tourism and historical sites to increase their awareness about the places of interest in their state.

He also spoke about medical tourism, involving Bengali associations in foreign countries and other states of India and make them tourism ambassadors to promote tourism along with introducing tourist helplines, tourist police squads, training institutes for the workforce involved in tourism activities.

Vikram Sen, Principal Secretary, state Department of Tourism, said that the department is prioritizing tourism infrastructure and is looking at Greenfield projects in hospitality and tourism activities.

The government has already floated PFPs for projects in North Bengal and Darjeeling along with projects in Sajnekhali, Gangasagar and Digha, he said.

Sen also invited opinions and inputs from the stakeholders on immediately making a roadmap on the present status of this industry in the state and the way forward.

Reiterating what Choudhury outlined, the Principal Secretary spoke about plans to set up a hospitality management training institute in the state and invited the private sector's participation in this.

He also spoke about laying down some codes of conduct for the front end service providers to the tourists viz drivers, receptionists etc.

Sen also requested the stakeholders to work hand in hand with the government to make West Bengal one of the most sought after destinations in the country.