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Push for tourism plans

Darjeeling, May 7: The state government has put together an elaborate plan to woo tourists to north Bengal and is getting ready to surprise holidaymakers when they step into the region in October, which is the start of the next season.

Raghvendra Singh, the state tourism secretary who is presently touring the hills to take a stock of the infrastructure that needs to be put in place, said the recently formed task force had already started work on improving various properties to accommodate tourists.

“We will come up with 30 Swiss cottages in the Dooars and the hills. Renovation of Morgan House, Tashiding and Hill Top (properties owned by the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation in Kalimpong) has already started. We will also improve the Darjeeling Circuit House and the Darjeeling Tourist Lodge. We plan to finish most of our work before October,” said Singh.

Mamata Banerjee had created the tourism task force to monitor the implementation of the tourism projects in north Bengal and to suggest new ones. The task force is acting as a single window platform for tourism promotion as officials of almost all departments have been made members.

Singh is the chairperson of the task force and other members include forest and environment secretary, land reforms commissioner and the DGHC administrator.

The task force wants to promote adventure and water sports in a big way in the hills. “We want to hold camps for angling and pitch tents in places where rafting has started.” said Singh.

The government has already started a process for setting up tourism parks at Gajoldoba, Saili and Kunjanagar in the Dooars. Works on creating new trekking routes and setting up watch towers in Buxa Tiger Reserve have already started.

Renovation of tourism properties at Tilabari, Betabari, Murti and Madarihat is also expected to start soon. “We plan to introduce our own tourism package covering the Darjeeling-Dooars circuit for the next tourism season. Keeping this in mind, we are trying to work out a number of activities for the visitors,” said Singh.