Minister to mayor: Clean up Kolkata and the tourists will come


KOLKATA – Union minister of state for tourism, Sultan Ahmed, who is also the Trinamool Congress MP from Howrah, has urged mayor Sovan Chatterjee to clean up the city if he intends it to become a tourist destination. Ahmed was speaking at the valedictory session of the Travel and Tourism Fair (TTF) at the Town Hall on Monday. Chatterjee was present at the programme.

Kolkata has the potential to develop into a tourist hot spot because of its rich heritage and the Hooghly that flows by, said the minister. However, tourists from all over the world and the rest of the country would get attracted to the city only if they find it clean, he asserted. “I urge the mayor to make Kolkata clean and green,” Ahmed said.

The tourism ministry feels Bengal can develop into a tourist destination. But unlike states like Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Kerala and Himachal Pradesh, Bengal hasn’t developed its tourism potential. “Bengal has wildlife, forests, mountains, rivers and can develop these to become a tourism hot spot. Unfortunately, the state has done little in that direction and, hence, is yet to become a choice destination for tourists,” Ahmed said.

Under an agreement between the tourism and HRD ministries, travel and tourism will soon be taught as a subject in schools, he added. “Bengal needs good roads and budget hotels immediately, if you expect tourists to flock here,”
Ahmed said.

Chatterjee said the Kolkata Municipal Corporation has joined hands with the ministry of railways to develop the Hooghly banks on the Kolkata side and turn it into a tourist destination. “There is no reason why Kolkata shouldn’t become the most visited city in the country. We’ll do everything in our capacity to ensure that,” Chatterjee promised. He, too, reminded those present that Bengal is extremely rich in natural surroundings, but unfortunately, tourism has not been developed here due to lack of interest on the part of the state.

This year, more than 30,000 visitors thronged TTF that started on July 31 and ended on Monday. Apart from all the states of India, seven countries participated in the event. Fairfest, the organisers, said TTF will soon go global and Indian tourism spots would be showcased in a forthcoming event to be held at San Francisco. Bengal will be featured in this event, too.