Joy Roy Choudhury – Kolkata
In sync with Mamata Banerjee’s vision to turn Bengal into a world-class tourist destination, the Tourism Department of West Bengal is mulling a plan to do away with the ‘dry days’ in popular tourist spots of the state.
Krishnendu Narayan Chowdhury, state tourism minister, West Bengal said, “While hardselling the tourist spots of West Bengal, we realised that it makes no sense to clamp the prohibitory orders on alcohol in tourist spots of the state like Darjeeling, Dooars, Digha and Sunderbans. The inbound tourists, be it domestic or foreigners are disappointed when they have to go through a ‘dry day’ at these destinations, where they have come to enjoy and relax.”
All these important tourist places depend on revenue from the tourists besides, liquor sales bring in revenue to the state government’s coffers. Chowdhury has already mooted the proposal to the state finance minister, Dr Amit Mitra who also heads the state’s Excise Department. “The finance minister has welcomed the idea and we would be soon submitting a detailed proposal to the department,” said Chowdhury.
A state tourism department said the idea of relaxing liquor norms, was in keeping with Mamata Banerjee’s dream to turn West Bengal into a world-class holidaying experience. He said, “The foreign tourists have complained about this and find the concept of prohibition as an absurd proposition and such restrictions are unheard of in the West.”
The industry has welcomed any such move as the ‘dry day’ ban has a chain impact on the hospitality industry, tour operators, travel agents and other related with the industry. Once the proposal is cleared, liquor will be available in West Bengal’s popular tourist spots all the year round. “We felt that these dry day restriction shouldn’t apply to these National Holidays because the tourists try to plan out their holiday itineraries in and around these days well in advance,” he added.
The official said that ‘dry days’ encourage sales and consumption of illicit liquor, which deprives the state of the precious liquor-generated revenue.