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River cruise and trek to woo tourists
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Siliguri, May 4: A cruise on the Ganga and a trip to Tiger Hill to watch the sunrise were among the attractions lined up by West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation (WBTDC) in its recent efforts to hard sell the tourism potential of the state.

The corporation joined hands with private partners to organise a familiarising trip for six international tour operators — two each from Korea and India and one each from Canada and Egypt — as an extension of the recently-concluded Great Indian Bazaar at Jaipur.

“More than 150 foreign tour operators from about 50

countries took part in the meet, in which Bengal was one of the theme states,” said T.V.N Rao, the managing director (MD) of WBTDC. “Eleven private tour operators from all over the state, including north Bengal, went with us and they interacted extensively with their foreign counterparts. The discussions led to the plan for a familiarisation trip.”

The six-day “fam-trip”, which began from Calcutta on April 23, gave the visiting team a first-hand experience of some of Bengal’s main attractions: the Darjeeling hills, the Sunderban delta and Calcutta. The tour operators enjoyed a cruise on the Ganga in south Bengal and visited Tiger Hill for the sunrise.

“We also took them to a tea-tourism project to give them a glimpse of the emerging trend,” Rao said.

“It is very important to provide first-hand experience to tourism service providers and travel writers from other countries to promote our tours. We have lined up more such familiarising trips for the state with the emphasis on the hills and the Dooars of north Bengal,” said the MD.

Raj Basu, the working president of the Eastern Himalayan Travel and Tour Operators’ Association, welcomed the initiative. “With the government taking the responsibility of liasing with international tourism service providers and bearing the travel costs, it becomes easier for us to pitch in with our services,” Basu added.

While the air-fare was borne by the government, the private tour operators provided services at each of the destinations.

Asked if the recent spate of strikes in the Darjeeling hills was acting against tourism, Rao said: “We will continue our efforts to promote the region. It is the responsibility of the administration and all sections of the society to ensure that the atmosphere is congenial for tourists.”

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