Kolkata: In an attempt to encourage community tourism and woo a larger number of travellers, the West Bengal Government is working on a “comprehensive and attractive” home stay policy and a heritage tourism policy, according to Mr A R Bardhan, Principal Secretary to the Department of Tourism of West Bengal.
These policies will be released in January, he said, adding that this is part of the State Government’s pronounced policy to promote inclusive growth.
“A new tourism policy and incentive scheme is already in place with the vision of making West Bengal a world class tourist destination and achieve a stated target tourist arrival growth rate in excess of 10% year to year over the next five years,” Mr Bardhan said at the Travel East 2016, a Conference on Transformational Leadership in Tourism Development, organized by CII-Suresh Neotia Centre of Excellence for Leadership here on Thursday.
“We seek to enhance branded hotel accommodation in Bengal to 10,000 by 2020. As per our incentive policy we have disbursed 26 crores of rupees to different hotel units in Bengal,” he said, adding that the Tourism Department plans to organize roadshows in Tier II and Tier III cities to attract more domestic footfalls.
The other notable plans include cottages in Tiger Hill to let tourists to “experience the surreal views” of the hills and sunrise. “We are also focusing on new hill destinations like Kalimpong, Kolakham, Lava, Lolegaon, etc as well as working on introducing Swiss cottages in many places,” he said.
The government is also working on a plan for tourism circuits including the historical trails of Murshidabad – Plassey – Nadia; the Religious trail of Tarapith – Belur – Dakshineshwar and the Beach trail of Digha – Mandarmoni – Tajpur – Udaipur, he added.
Mr Bardhan thanked the CII-Suresh Neotia Centre of Excellence for Leadership for organizing Travel East 2016 saying it remains an important platform for states and private players to showcase their travel destinations and tourist hotspots.
Mr Madhukar Sabnavis, Country Head – Discovery & Planning, O&M India, informed the audience that O&M is working on an advertisement which will portray a unified picture of what Bengal is by encompassing culture, art, music and literature. Its objective is to showcase a theme that defines the quintessential sweetness of Bengal. According to him, destination branding can be strengthened by the digital world.
Mr Satpal Kumar Arora, Managing Director, Tourism Finance Corporation of India (TFCI), spoke of Bengal’s immense potential in the tourism sector. If properly tapped and harnessed, tourism can be a great boost to the state economy and source of livelihood for people.
Mr Aloke Mookherjea, Chairman, CII Eastern Region Innovation Task Force & Chairman, Howden Solyvent India Private Limited said that some iconic destinations are game changers for the tourism industry. Of special significance is the emerging game changing trend in applying digitization and analysis in development of tourism strategies, destinations and markets. “Tourism developers and the related players around the country and the world are looking for innovative solutions and approaches in designing and developing their own interventions,” he added.
The objective is to showcase capture a theme around generosity, spirit and humanity that defines the “quintessential sweetness of Bengal”, Mr Sabnavis said. According to him, destination branding can be strengthened by the digital world.
Mr Aloke Mookherjea, Chairman, CII Eastern Region Innovation Task Force & Chairman, Howden Solyvent India Private Limited, said examples abound around the world of true leadership of thought and action in tourism development work which have been game changers for this sector. “A few examples are Nepal casinos in the 1980s, Mauritius honeymoon destination in the 1990s, Kerala God’s Own Country, Rajasthan: forts, palaces & history. Of special significance is the emerging game changing trend in applying digitization and analysis in development of tourism strategies, destinations and markets,” he said.