New Delhi: Be it the idyllic snow-capped mountains, lush green valleys, dark dense forests housing the fearsome and majestic Royal Bengal Tigers or sand-yellow beaches along the sea — West Bengal is truly endowed with the bounty of mother nature. Add to it the hundreds of heritage sites, monuments, places of religious or historical value and then also you get only a fleeting glimpse of what the State has to offer to travellers and adventure enthusiasts.
To amply project the tourism potential of West Bengal, attract more domestic and foreign tourists and facilitate better interaction with investors and industry stakeholders like travel operators, the first-ever month-long intensive promotional campaign for Tourism in the State was launched in Delhi On April 4 with the unveiling of an advertisement panel at the DTC bus shelter in front of the office of the West Bengal Information and Cultural Centre (WBICC) at Gole Market by Shri Krishnendu Nayaran Choudhury, Hon’ble Minister for Tourism, Government of West Bengal.
As part of the campaign, with the attractive catch-line of “Chalo Chalen Bengal” (Let’s Visit Bengal), picturesque and high-quality advertisement panels depicting premier tourist attractions of the State are being displayed in 15 such bus shelters across Delhi, apart from the city airport and key railway stations.
In keeping with the multi-dimensional approach to present the tourist-friendly atmosphere of the State, the Hon’ble Minister also inaugurated a new state-of-the-art tourism information centre at the WBICC office, equipped with high-speed internet connection and other modern facilities. He opened a Photography Exhibition titled “Beautiful Bengal” by Shri Sanjay Das at the Muktadhara Art Gallery at WBICC, with an objective to project to the visitors the myriad hues of West Bengal.
To spread the message at home and abroad, Resident Commissioners of all States and Envoys of various countries were invited for the promotional programme, organized by the Tourism Department, Government of West Bengal and Office of the Resident Commissioner, West Bengal, New Delhi.
The highlight of the day-long event was an interactive session involving the Hon’ble Minister, senior officials of the Department of Tourism, Government of West Bengal and various stakeholders of the Indian tourism industry, including representatives of the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) and Adventure tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI), which was preceded by an address by the Hon’ble Minister and a presentation by Principal Secretary, Tourism, Shri Vikram Sen, dwelling on the present status and future strategies related to tourism and hospitality sectors in the State and on how the State Government, under the leadership of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, is making all efforts to provide special impetus to meet the immense growth potential in the two sectors.
The Approach Paper of the 12th Five Year Plan prepared by the Planning Commission highlights the need to adopt “pro-poor tourism” for increasing net benefits to the poor and ensuring that tourism growth contributes to poverty reduction. Tourism plays a key role in socio-economic progress through creation of jobs, enterprise, infrastructure and revenue earnings. The Planning Commission has identified tourism as the second largest sector in the country in providing employment opportunities for low-skilled workers.
In keeping with this vision, State Finance Minister Dr Amit Mitra has earmarked Rs. 120 crore for Tourism in the State Budget for 2013-14, marking a sharp increase of about 33 per cent as compared to the allocation of Rs. 90 crore in the previous fiscal and showing a significant upward growth since the 2011-12 financial year when Rs 44 crore were allocated for the sector.
The campaign launched in Delhi also included holding of B2B meetings with potential tourism and hospitality sector investors, in continuation of a series of previous such interactions under the theme of “Investment Opportunities in West Bengal” which were held here on 16th and 17th January, 2013 at FICCI and CII with the Hon’ble Finance Minister showcasing the State’s potential in tourism promotion with senior industry leaders and travel and tour operator associations.
In the area of tourist infrastructure, the Government has moved forward through the PPP Mode with projects on offer to the tune of Rs. 3,700 crore, including Gajoldoba Tourism Hub, The Kolkata Giant Wheel, Sylee Tea Tourism Hub, Kunjanagar Nature and Adventure Park and Eco-Tourism in Jhadkhali, Sundarbans.
Project Report on Digha-Tajpur-Mandarmani and Udaypur Beach Tourism Circuit and several other beach tourism circuits are also under consideration.
The day’s event culminated with a colourful ensemble of folk forms and cultural attractions of West Bengal, including “Pat-er Gaan” (songs rendered during rural tradition of story-telling with the help of scroll paintings), “Baul Gaan” (representing the unique spiritual musical heritage of Bengal) “Purulia Chhau” (tribal martial dance) and contemporary Bangla songs by members of the ‘Chandrabindoo’ band
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