Thursday, March 30

West Bengal pips Kerala and Goa, ranks sixth in drawing foreign tourists

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The Bengal Tourism Meet by Confederation of Indian Industry kicked off on Monday on a positive note, pegging West Bengal at the sixth position in terms of attracting foreign tourists.

This has taken the state ahead of Kerala and Goa, said Vijay Dewan, chairman of the tourism sub-committee of CII in his inaugural address. Darjeeling has been one of the biggest draws among the tourists visiting the state, tour operators and hospitality brands operating in the hills have said.

“West Bengal is Number 6 in the country in terms of attracting tourists from abroad. It is ahead of Goa and Kerala. The state has made huge progress in quality service, reliability and affordability, which has provided huge impetus to tourism,” said Dewan.

As per several tour operators and hospitality addresses in the hills the Darjeeling circuit was the biggest draw among foreigners due to the pleasant weather, scenic beauty and the toy train.

“Most foreigners coming to the state head to Darjeeling and adjoining hill stations because the weather is pleasant compared to some of the colder countries. The toy train, which is a UNESCO heritage site is also a big draw,” said a representative of Eastern Himalayas Travel and Tour Operators’ Association.

The government will encourage more homestays in the state to meet the demand and soon bring in guidelines to regulate the fledgling homestay industry in north Bengal and other parts of the state so that guests receive reliable and quality services when visiting the state.

“Homestays have added a new dimension to tourism in the state and it is encouraging to see the industry growing rapidly. It is creating employment opportunities too. But it has come to our notice that in some cases the facilities are not upto the mark. We want to assure quality and reliability for guests visiting our state,” said Gautam Deb, minister of tourism.

Members of the CII and various tourism companies attending the tourism meet also gave a wish list to the government to attract more tourists to the state.

“River tourism should get special treatment in our tourism policy because it has a huge potential. We also need to develop entertainment hubs around Park Street, Tangra, Sector V and New Town. The state has a rich cultural heritage which can be showcased by developing heritage tourism in places like Murshidabad, Bankura and Birbhum,” said Dewan.

There were also suggestions to increase the parking bays for aircraft at the city airport and bringing the ATF under the ambit of GST.

Source: Times of India

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