Although the West Bengal government is reluctant to admit that the political turmoil in the Hills has affected the tourism industry in Darjeeling and the surrounding areas, it is attempting to aggressively market other destinations within the state to ensure a steady inflow of tourists.
“Darjeeling is a destination that is almost two centuries old and there is no replacement for it. However, we are trying to bring up other destinations in West Bengal and the number of inbound tourists have been increasing at a rate higher than the national average,” state tourism Manab Mukherjee said. Mukherjee said that Dooars, Malda, Murshidabad, Santiniketan as well as the sea beaches in the south of the state were being increasingly frequented by tourists. The state government, through the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation (WBTDC), was also working on a number of cultural festivals to act as promotional vehicles for establishing new tourist destinations.
“Next year, we are going to organise a cultural festival at Bishnupur for showcasing the musical heritage of the region and are also planning to hold a festival at the Hazarduari (Palace) in Murshidabad to promote the culture and crafts of the erstwhile Nawabs of Bengal,” Mukherjee said. He was speaking at a press meet for the West Bengal Tourism & Food Festival 2010.
Ganga Heritage Cruise
West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation on Monday said that it would take at least six months for the Rs 130-crore Ganga Heritage River Cruise project in West Bengal to materialise as a re-tendering for private participation in the scheme will be undertaken next month.
“When we originally floated a tender for the (Ganga Heritage) River Cruise project last year, the private firms wanted a change in the proposed equity structure of the PPP (public private partnership) and also wanted a certain amount of land to set-up their onshore facilities. We have agreed to these changes and a new tender will be floated next month,” WBTDC Managing Director T V N Rao said.