Bengal targets foreign tourists this Durga Puja
Kolkata: Going beyond domestic tourists, the West Bengal government has drawn up plans to attract foreign tourists during the upcoming Durga Puja festival.
"We have already organised roadshows in Bangalore, and Mumbai, besides organising campaigns in USA and Canada," state's Tourism Minister Rachhpal Singh said.
While planning more such programmes in other major Indian cities, more campaigns are awaiting to draw attention of tourists from Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and neighbouring countries with the help of various central and foreign agencies, he said.
To strengthen marketing of Durga Puja festival, an apex body 'Forum for Durga Puja' would be launched soon to work with the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation (WBTDC).
"Though making profit is not the target of the state government more tourists will open up sources of income for many people here," Singh said.
Bengal's biggest festival Durga Puja, which will begin from October 21, is a four day melange of festive fun and devotion which brings everything else in the entire state to a standstill.
Some of the packages already announced included visits to major puja pandals and those of erstwhile aristocratic families, celebrating puja on the Ganges and river cruise connecting Belur Math, Dakshineswar and Botanical Garden.
While Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had already met puja organisers in the metropolis, Singh said he had also convened meetings with tour operators, hotel owners and different transport agencies, besides several other government departments to set things in right direction.
The department also announced detailed packages along with toll-free number for help desk and other contacts to assist tourists from other states and abroad, he said.
Meanwhile, the state government has urged the Centre to sanction its tourism projects immediately, Detailed Project Report (DPR) of which had already been sent to Delhi.
"Out of a number of DPRs sent to the Centre, only a few sanctions we have received so far," Singh said.
While projects like development of Burdwan Tourism Circuit, Hooghly Tourism Circuit, Destination Darjeeling and Gateway Sundarbans were yet to get sanction from the Centre, projects like Destination Gangasagar and Diamond Harbour have received sanction recently, he said.
"The Centre claims that most of the state governments keep on demanding sanction of its proposed projects without sending any DPR, but the case is different for West Bengal," the minister said.