JOY ROY CHOUDHURY – Kolkata
“The West Bengal government will soon unveil a comprehensive ‘Tourism Policy’, with a major thrust on creating a separate brand for West Bengal,” said Rachhpal Singh, tourism minister, West Bengal while speaking at the ‘Travel India 2012 Summit’, a two-day travel conference organised recently by the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC). He informed that the tourism promotion in the state will revolve around the major festival of the state, Durga Puja and other aspects like medical tourism and cemetery tourism. Further to promote its ‘Look East Policy’, the union tourism ministry has agreed to West Bengal Tourism Department’s proposal to promote ‘Bengal’, as the theme state at at World Travel Mart (WTM) to be held in London later this year.
The state tourism department is turning to colonial graveyards to lure foreign tourists especially European visitors keen to visit the tombs of their ancestors or the famous. They have come up with a plan to promote ‘cemetery tourism’. Sources indicate that the state government has sought the assistance of the Christian Burial Board, which runs five major cemeteries in the city. The board will digitalise its records so that foreign tourists can find the graves of their forefathers easily.
Singh also said a holistic policy to renovate each and every district is under process while the government has participated in road shows to promote tourism in metro cities in other states. The state is taking special care to develop tourism in North Bengal, Digha and Sundarbans in a customised way. He emphasised on te need for transport infrastructure in North Bengal and requested the central government to intervene in this issue.
Singh also felt that the state of West Bengal and its peer states in East India have not received deserved coverage under the union ministry of tourism’s ‘Incredible India’ campaign and hence it needs a separate campaign to promote tourism in the East and North east India with Kolkata as a theme as it s gateway.
Singh, asserted that the outlay for the state’s tourism department has been raised to Rs 104 crore for the current fiscal from Rs 38 crore in the previous year, the largest ever corpus for the first time in the state. If the tourism infrastructure development projects under different municipalities, Sunderbans Development Department and others are taken into consideration, the total volume would go up to Rs 300 crore.
Also in sync with West Bengal chief minister, Mamata Banerjee’s dream to turn Digha into the ‘Goa’ of the East, the beach town will be painted in royal blue and sunflower yellow. Two new gateways, one on the Kolkata-Digha Road in Old Digha and another one near the Digha railway station at New Dighat will be constructed soon.