The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tourism trumpet in Modi land

Calcutta, Aug. 24: The Marxists may hate Narendra Modi, but they are willing to hug his state for tourism's sake.

A six-member delegation led by state tourism minister Dinesh Dakua camped in Ahmedabad between August 16 and August 21 to promote Destination Bengal and woo visitors from Gujarat.

Tourism secretary Tapan Burman and managing director of the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation (WBTDC) Souren Bhattacharya accompanied the minister.

'There was no politics in our Gujarat trip. Our aim was to project Bengal to the people of Gujarat as a prominent tourist destination.... We have just exchanged our views with Gujarat officials,' clarified Dakua.

The Bengal team also held discussions with tour operators and took part in seminars and workshops to highlight the facilities and incentives the state would offer.

'West Bengal has a variety of tourist destinations like Darjeeling, the Sunderbans and Sagar Island, perceived to be among the best in the country. Besides, a tourist has to shell out much less money on travelling, car rents and lodging compared with some of the other prominent tourist spots in the country,' Dakua said.

The delegation pointed out how good Bengal's law and order situation is and how tourists can move around without fear. 'The only problem is that many people do not have a comprehensive idea about our tourist spots and we also could not earlier properly project them.... We have now given priority to promoting tourism all over the country. Our trip to Gujarat is part of that exercise,' said Bhattacharya.

'We have assured the Gujarat tour operators of all kinds of facilities and administrative support.... We are even ready to provide discounts for different package tours organised by the WBTDC,' added the corporation's managing director.

He said officials and tour operators from Gujarat would soon come to Bengal for an on-the-spot assessment.

'The people of Gujarat love to undertake tours and over four to five crore people from that state visit different tourist spots in the country every year. We want to tap a percentage of those tourists,' an official said.

According to state officials, Bengal tourism is on a high. Nearly 1.25 crore domestic tourists and 80 lakh foreigners visited Bengal last year, they said.

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