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Travel traders under govt glare

Calcutta, Dec. 7: The government is planning to put travel operators under the scanner in the wake of increasing numbers of duped travellers and tourists.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said today talks are on to formulate a comprehensive policy governing the tour and travel business. The government will monitor the activities of tour agencies, Bhattacharjee said but added that the plans were yet to be finalised.

“The government may set up an apex body to monitor the travel agents or introduce licences,” Bhattacharjee told reporters at Nalban on the closing day of the West Bengal Tourism Festival.

Tourism minister Dinesh Dakua has sent the file to the chief minister and discussions are on at various levels of the government about the new policy.

“We regularly receive reports of customers being cheated by tour agencies,” the chief minister said. But he gave a clean chit to the big players in the business. “The reputed foreign agencies are not involved in such practice (cheating).” Local operators, who are mushrooming, are the black sheep, he added.

“Now, the government is helpless even after receiving complaints. So, we are planning to curb such activities,” said Bhattacharjee. He visited the stalls at the festival and iterated the government’s resolve to invite more private participation in tourism. “This sector forms a chunk of our domestic product and provides the highest employment,” he said.

On the joint venture with Sahara Group to develop Sunderbans as a better tourist destination, Bhattacharjee said a “no objection” certificate from the Union environment ministry is awaited. Sprucing up the Sankarpur beach near Digha and developing Visva-Bharati as a tourist hot spot are next on the cards.

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