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Help desks to boost tourism in Bengal

Siliguri, Oct. 17: The state tourism department has planned to set up information centres in cities across the country and also in two key transit points in Calcutta.

“To help tourists from other states and also foreign tourists who arrive in Bengal, help desks or facilitation centres would be opened in some of the major cities of the country,” a senior official of the tourism department said today.

The tenders were floated on October 1.

“The agencies which qualify the bids and meet other terms and conditions would be asked to depute at least two persons, who would be information facilitators, to man these help booths and centres,” he added.

According to a source in the tourism department, the facilitation centres in Calcutta would be opened at the Netaji Subash Chandra Bose International Airport in Dumdum and the railway station in Howrah.

“These are two principal transit points in Calcutta. The help centres can provide tourists with a host of information related to transport, sight seeing and accommodation in tourist destinations spread across the state,” the official said.

“Also, such a centre would open at the state tourism office in BBD Bag in Calcutta,” he added.

Similar centres would be set up in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Lucknow.

“These places cater to a huge number of foreign tourists but there are no help desks of Bengal and they have to bank on private tour operators or the Internet to get information. Also, a good number of domestic tourists from Delhi, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh visit Bengal every year. They too, can obtain all necessary information from these centres,” a source at the department said.

The manpower or information facilitators to be deputed in these centres by the private agencies, would have to be conversant in the local language along with English and Hindi.

“In a document released on October 1 by the tourism department, it was mentioned that they should have a degree in tourism hospitality management and basic knowledge of computers,” a source said.

The source added these centres would be open from 8am to 8pm everyday.

The booth at the Calcutta airport would be open for 24 hours.

The services which would be provided at these centres include, online booking of package tours, tourist lodges and other accommodation under the state tourism department, supply of brochures and information of taxi and transport for tourists.

“We welcome the move. So far, there was no such infrastructure at the transit points. Such booths can help in guiding tourists, ” said Samrat Sanyal associated with East Wind Holidays, a destination management company.