A joint study on Kolkata’s Durga Puja by British Council, IIT Kharagpur and the UK’s Queen Mary University that pegged its financial impact at Rs 32,377 crore has recommended steps to leverage the festival and tie it up with tourism destinations in the state to further increase economic activity.
The study that mapped 10 industries associated with the festival (art & decoration; idol-making; lighting & illumination; literature & publishing; retail; crafts & design; film & entertainment; sponsorship; food & beverage; and advertising), suggested strengthening communication and connectivity and development of premium properties to offer high-end tourists a package that includes an experience of the Sunderbans, Santiniketan, Purulia and Darjeeling as a circuit along with Kolkata’s Durga Puja. It has also called for an environment impact assessment study of the festival.
“At present, the seven days of Durga Puja generates economic activity that is 2.5% of the state’s gross domestic product. The potential though is much higher. The art and craft that transform Kolkata into a veritable art gallery with street installations can attract high-end tourists from Europe and America. To do so, one needs direct flight links with Europe and US and a seamless package that wows tourists with not just the Durga Puja but also the Sunderbans and Darjeeling,” an official associated with the study said.
Commissioned by the state, the study was carried out during the Durga Puja in 2019. The methodology used to carry out the economic impact study was the same one that had mapped the Edinburgh festival in the UK. The study, led by Queen Mary University, received support from IIT-Kharagpur and The Smart Cube, an analytics firm based in Bengaluru. “This complex research combines quantitative and qualitative analysis of the ecosystem of the economy that feeds the festival. It was done based on the same methodology that maps the Edinburgh and Rio festivals,” said Barbara Wickham, director of British Council in India.
The report has also called for another study of the unorganized retail industry in Gariahat and Hathibagan that transform into major shopping hubs for a month ahead of Durga Puja. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee said her government would urge United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to declare Durga Puja as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity.