January 25, 2020
Tourism flourishing in Bangla
The State Tourism Department has done a lot over the last nine years (since the Trinamool Congress Government came to power in 2011) to realise the immense tourism potential that Bangla holds. A lot of work is still going on.
The number foreign tourists registered in Bangla has gone up and the State has now climbed to the sixth spot among in terms of foreign tourist arrivals.
Some of the recent achievements of the Tourism Department:
- With a vision to sensitise and create awareness among the common people of Bangla about the activities, tourist destinations and products, the Tourism Department organises Bengal Tourism Festivals in different districts. Six festivals have been organised – in Digha, Bolpur, Bishnupur, Chandannagar, Kalyani and Naihati – all of which attracted large footfalls.
- A special drive to upgrade all tourist lodges run by the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation Limited to three-star status is being undertaken in a phase-wise manner.
- Aahoran, the State Institute of Hotel Management (SIHM), Durgapur commenced sessions in July 2018.
- New tourism projects taken up during 2018-19 include development of Jaychandipahar Tourism Project, construction of Bhasa Soudho (Bangavukti Udyan) at Puncha Development Block, Purulia, complete renovation of Teesta Paryatak Abas, development of tourism in Doladanga, Purulia, development of tourism in Muruguma, Purulia, complete renovation of Jaldapara Tourist Lodge, Murti Tourist Lodge, Pathik Motel, Shantiniketan Tourist Lodge and Bishnupur Tourist Lodge.
- A large number of people, including foreign delegates, witness the Red Road Carnival, the grand immersion procession of the goddess Durga held a few days after Durga Puja. It is likely to be included by UNESCO in its list of Intangible Heritages.
- To ensure a hassle-free travel experience for domestic as well as international tourists, the Tourism Department is setting up district tourism committees in each of the 23 districts.
- For the first time, in December 2019, a tourism festival was organised in north Bengal – at the offbeat destinations of Meteli, Gajoldoba (Jalpaiguri district) Rajabhatkhawa (Alipurduar district), Sitong (Darjeeling district), Pedong (Kalimpong district) and Talidighi (Dakshin Dinajpur district).
- Business tourism, also called MICE tourism (meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions), is gaining momentum in Kolkata and other parts of Bangla on the back of improved connectivity, the presence of several five-star hotels and a world-class convention centres.
- The State Tourism Department has started restoring several Buddhist stupas spread across north Bengal; five stupas have been identified as of now.
- The Jangalmahal tourism circuit is being widely promoted, resulting in an increasing influx of tourists and consequently, a steady income stream for many locals. Among the places being promoted are Belpahari, Banspahari, Kankrajhor, Laljal (Jhargram district), Karambera Fort, Karnagarh, Gongoni and several others. Homestays are coming up in many places.
- Gajoldoba ecotourism hub (Bhorer Alo): Spread over 208 acres of land between the Teesta Barrage and the Baikunthapur Forest, this mega project is envisaged to be the new eco-tourism destination for north Bengal. It will offer integrated tourism facilities with eco-tourism cottages, wellness spas, high-end eco-lake resorts, star category eco-resorts, food courts, hospitality training institutes and a museum, amongst others.
- Jharkhali ecotourism project: The project site is spread over 99 acres of land on the bank of the river Herobhanga near the mangroves of the Sundarbans. The region is equipped with basic support infrastructure including road connectivity, power supply, water supply, sewerage and sanitation amongst others.