The state tourism promotion task force formed by the Mamata Banerjee government to develop the sector has come up with plans with various state departments so as to increase tourist footfall and create new facilities and attractions for them.
Tourism contributes around 13 per cent to Bengal’s GDP, much higher than the national average of 7.5 per cent.
On May 23, a meeting of the task force, headed by chief secretary H.K. Dwivedi, was held in Calcutta on various issues on tourism.
“It has been decided that the state tourism department will prepare a branding and publicity strategy, which includes an app. Pathasathi properties (motels developed by the state government) should be showcased through the app, along with private motels as stopovers,” said a source.
The state has planned to develop infrastructure along the Sandakphu route — the highest point of Bengal located in Darjeeling hills and a popular trekking route — to make it easier for trekkers and create income options for local residents.
“The West Bengal Forest Development Corporation will build cottages in Tonglu and Chitre (villages on the route) with dining facilities. It will also come up with tents in Sandakphu, Phalut and Gairibas, with a proper waste management system,” an official said.
Among other plans at the meeting was a survey on which dams and reservoirs can be opened for tourism.
“The state irrigation and waterways department has been tasked to identify such sites. The information and cultural affairs department, on the other hand, has been asked to check out sites of 111 monuments to install CCTVs and build ramps for the safety and ease of tourists,” the official added.
The task force has discussed building a new airport in Malda and a state institute of hotel management in Kurseong.
Souvenir kiosks will come up in various places in Bengal in association with the MSME and textiles department.