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Plans Plenty For Tourism Boost


http://www.telegraphindia.com/1110702/jsp/calcutta/story_14186307.jsp

02 July 2011

Calcutta:
Better accommodation, river cruise, sea sports and safaris into the Sunderbans core area — state tourism minister Rachhpal Singh promised these and more while inaugurating Tourist Spot at Netaji Indoor Stadium on Friday.

The three-day tourism festival, the biggest in eastern India, is being hosted by Camellia Hotels & Resorts in association with Anandabazar Patrika. Fashion designer Agnimitra Paul and Nil Ratan Datta, the MD and chairman of Camellia Group, were present at the launch.

Singh took a swipe at the previous Left Front government, claiming that no department was in a “bigger mess than the tourism department”. He pointed out that lodges didn’t have basic amenities and over the years, the department had not undertaken any scheme to highlight Bengal’s tourism potential.

“The tourism department only runs these lodges, and those too are in a ramshackle condition. You need to pull strings or run from pillar to post to get accommodation in these lodges. We just found out that liquor licences meant for the tourism department have been rented out to private parties. No wonder that places like Dooars, Darjeeling and the Sunderbans don’t have any facilities,” the minister said.

“Why should only ministers have access to the core jungle area of the Sunderbans? What will the others go to see… the grass?”

To shore up the state’s tourism prospects, it’s back to the districts. “All the districts have so much to offer; this has been completely ignored. We are now trying to look at possibilities for development — be it Jairambati, Kalna, Hooghly or the Plassey site. We are already working on a small Ganga project at Chandernagore. We are developing the place and starting a cruise. We are also planning to introduce sea sports in Digha,” said Singh.

The department is working on a website that will help travellers with information apart from letting them buy tickets and make reservations online.

The response to the fair on Day One was enthusiastic, with a queue snaking all the way to the stadium entrance by the afternoon. The queries for popular domestic destinations like Shimla, Rajasthan and Kerala poured in, but many visitors were keen to look beyond for their Puja vacation. “We’ve travelled within India all our lives. So this time, we’re thinking about Singapore,” said Nishikanta Mukherjee, a retired banker.

Tour operators, too, have kept the Puja crowd in mind while planning itineraries. “Some of the trips can be undertaken over the Puja days. But we’re also getting lots of queries for the longer trips — Australia and New Zealand, the Mediterranean, Europe,” said Abhijeet Sen, deputy general manager (east), Cox & Kings.