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Since 1st March, 1999
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Minister in hurry called back

Calcutta, June 13: What was touted as a session “to forge a partnership” between the state government and the stakeholders of the tourism industry turned out to be a crash course in why Bengal is nowhere on the tourism map, with the minister leaving in a hurry and then returning in a huff.

About 100 representatives of the tourism industry, mainly travel agents and operators, were “outraged” when tourism minister Manabendra Mukherjee delivered a short speech this morning and left.

CII, the organiser of the Tourism: Government-Industry Interactive Session, had promised the minister would be there through the day. “We had prepared a presentation covering vital issues like measures to cultivate healthy air transportation (referring to the withdrawal of British Airways), difficulty in getting travel permits, absence of consulates in the city…. If the minister himself is not present then what is the point of this meet,” said Anil Punjabi of the Travel Agents’ Federation of India.

With tempers rising and the session in jeopardy it was time to dial M for Minister.

Mukherjee did come back in an hour but for what turned out to be a snap-and-snarl session. When Suddhabrata Deb of the Travel Agents Association of Bengal snapped: “Rajasthan is known for its culture, Goa for its beaches but Bengal has no such USP”, he snarled: “A heterogeneous product can’t be branded singularly”.

Clearly, the Tourism: Government-Industry Interactive Session was going nowhere, like the tourism prospects.

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