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Bungalow boost to tourism

Calcutta, Sept. 6: Planning to spend the weekend at Digha, Frasergunj or Bishnupur' Or an entire week in the jungles of north Bengal or the snow-clad mountains of Darjeeling'

Even if your travel agent has turned you down, you might still be able to get a room at a state government inspection bungalow or guesthouse.

What’s more, you need not run from one government department to another seeking information on availability of rooms or the cost of reservation.

Good times are round the corner, for the cash-strapped Bengal government plans to throw open inspection bungalows and guesthouses owned by various state departments to tourists when not in use.

Most rooms at these places remain closed throughout the year. Visits by government officers to such bungalows are rare.

But now, the government wants to fill state coffers and promote tourism at the same time by making full use of the rooms.

“There are a number of tourist spots all over the state — both popular and not-so-travelled areas — where the state government owns such guesthouses and inspection bungalows,” M.K. Sengupta, director of state tourism, says. “The purpose behind using the bungalows is to promote tourism in the state. None of the concerned departments have opposed the proposal,” he added.

Tourists will be able to book rooms at two centralised counters — one at Calcutta and another in Siliguri.

This will spare them the trouble of lurching from one government department to another looking for information on availability of rooms and ways to book them.

Rooms are available in 163 bungalows and guesthouses not owned by the state forest and public works department. The rooms have been lying unused for years because they “are very rarely occupied by the department officers for official use”.

“Because of unawareness of such availability of the bungalows and the booking authorities, general tourists can very rarely avail the scope of using those bungalows for the purpose of visiting tourist spots,” an official note says.

The state government is now working on the procedure and guidelines for making the 600 rooms and 2,636 beds available.

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