September 27, 2018
Achievements of the Tourism Department
The State Tourism Department under the Trinamool Congress Government has been very proactive in promoting the tourist spots of Bangla. It has also created many new spots by developing infrastructure and transport facilities to those places.
Sustainable models of tourism like eco-tourism, tea tourism and homestay tourism are being given a lot of push. Homestay tourism is helping in giving a fillip to the local economy in many places; and having to build no big hotels or lodges in sensitive environments provides for environmental sustainability.
Introduction of new policies: The Trinamool Congress Government has introduced several tourism policies over the last seven years to bring about a sea change in the tourism scenario in Bangla. All these initiatives have contributed significantly towards the development of tourism and tourism infrastructure in the State. Special initiatives like tea tourism and homestay tourism are being given actively promoted as these have a lot of potential for growth.
The policies launched are:
- West Bengal Incentive Policy, 2008, modified in 2015
- Tea Tourism Policy, 2013
- West Bengal Tourism Policy, 2016
- West Bengal Home Stay Tourism Policy, 2017
- West Bengal Tourism Policy, 2018
Introduction of District Tourism Development Committees: District Level Tourism Development Committees have been introduced to propose, implement, monitor and supervise tourism projects in the district. This has given more responsibilities to local officials which in turn has helped in the speedier implementation of projects and better maintenance of properties.
Hospitality properties: The number of hospitality properties has been raised from 25 (FY 2010-11) to 32 (FY 2017-18), thereby increasing tourism infrastructure in the State. A few of among the new and renovated properties are Jhargram Rajbari Complex, Rangabitan, Batabari, Tilabari, Jayanti, Morgan House Cottages and Jaldapara New Cottages.
Hospitality courses: The government has started the State Institute of Hotel Management in Durgapur and introduced courses accredited by the National Council of Hotel Management and Catering Technology with a view to increasing the number of skilled manpower in the State.
New packages: Several new packages have been introduced. These strategies have worked wonders in terms of attracting more and more tourists to the State
- ‘Shakti Trail’ (in Birbhum)
- ‘Tea Cheers’ (tours to the Hills and the Dooars on AC Volvo Buses)
- ‘Wild Wonders’ (the Dooars on AC Volvo buses)
- ‘Exotic Sundarban Safari’ (to Bonnie Camp and Kalash Island Tiger Project)
- ‘Illish Utsav’ (takes place on vessels, on the banks of the Hooghly in Kolkata)
- Christmas packages to churches of Kolkata and midnight mass at Bandel Church, or the Basilica of the Holy Rosary
- New Sharadotsav (Durga Puja) packages for Kolkata
- Sharodotsav packages for various districts – Birbhum (Surul Rajbari), Rarh Banga (Borsul and Guskara), Hooghly, Baharampur, Bijaya Package (Bishnupur)
- Special packages for state guests and VIPs
Special events: Special festivals are organised by the State Government to attract more tourists. These new events have opened up entirely new vistas in the history of tourism in the State. The primary festivals are:
- Red Road Carnival (world’s biggest public festival linked to Durga Puja)
- Christmas Festival on Park Street
- Bishnupur Music Festival
- Digha Beach Festival
- Dekho Re food fest at Laldighi, BBD Bagh on weekends
- Hool Utsav in Jhargram
- Mati Utsav in Bardhaman
Various projects in the districts: In all the districts, projects are being constantly taken up to promote tourist spots. Many tourist spots have been especially created through the building of infrastructure.
PPP projects: A very successful approach taken up by the Tourism Department has been the adoption of the public-private partnership (PPP) model. This has helped in reducing the cost for the government and promoting private enterprises. In this respect, two major eco-tourism projects need to be mentioned – ‘Jhar’ in Jharkhali (Sundarbans, South 24 Parganas district) and ‘Bhorer Alo’ in Gajoldoba (Jalpaiguri district). Both have been named by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee herself.
New initiatives taken up: Among the new initiatives taken up by the Tourism Department are:
- Two luxury corporate houseboats launched
- Tourist lodges under the department being upgraded to 3-star category
- Patha Sathi motels now being managed by Tourism Department
- New tourist facilities in Chandannagar
- Baul Bitan and Baul Academy in Birbhum district
- Khoai area near Bolpur in Birbhum district developed
- Paryatan Bhavan (departmental head office) constructed at Salt Lake
- MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions) tourism facilities being set up at Bagdogra
- Denmark Tavern in Serampore restored
Publicity and promotional activities: The department is now carrying out a lot of publicity and promotional activities round the year. The departmental website has been revamped and another created specially for Durga Puja. Social media is being widely used. Media like television and radio channels, magazines and newspapers, as well as outdoor media, are being used to promote Bangla. The department is participating in various national and international industry conferences and holding roadshows, both in India and abroad.