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Boost for north in central and state budgets
Raise in allocation for domestic tour promo

Siliguri, Feb. 17: Tourism stakeholders in north Bengal today said the sector would be boosted by an increase in the allocation of funds for domestic tourism campaign in the interim budget presented by Union finance minister for the next financial year.

P. Chidambaram raised the allocation for the domestic tourism campaign to Rs 123 crore for 2014-2015 from Rs 108 crore for the current fiscal. He, however, slashed the funds for undertaking similar campaign abroad to promote the tourist spots in India from Rs 350 crore to Rs 330 crore.

“It is good to hear that allocation for carrying out tourism campaigns across the country has been increased. We have a sizeable number of domestic tourists who travel from one part of India to another. If a concrete plan is laid out and executed with the help of local stakeholders, tourism industry in each region across India can experience a boom,” said Samrat Sanyal, a representative of a Siliguri-based tourism enterprise.

“The Union tourism ministry should focus on lesser-known destinations and circuits so that tourists can have more options to choose from.”

The Congress said two announcements in the budget would help the backward people in north Bengal.

“The formation of a venture capital fund of Rs 200 crore to provide concessions to members of scheduled castes to start enterprises would largely help unemployed youths of different communities, including the Rajbangshis, in north Bengal. The state government has failed to make these communities self-reliant,” said Shankar Malakar, the Darjeeling district Congress president.

“The other announcement is the allocation of Rs 444.59 crore for marketing minor forest produces. There are around 300 forest villages across north Bengal and people there sell forest produces like honey, saal leaves, herbs and spices. The marketing mechanism will help them. We will highlight these points in our campaign for Lok Sabha elections,” he added.