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Tourism festival turns into venue for trading charges

Our Bureau Kolkata | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on July 13, 2012

Artistes performing at the inaugural ceremony of the 96th travel and tourism show in Kolkata on Friday. About 256 participants from all over the country as well as neighbouring countries are participating in the fair. — Photo: A. Roy Chowdhury   -  Business Line

Minister, organisers trade accusations over failure to attract visitors to the State

Two out of five tourists in the domestic circuit are from West Bengal . But when it comes to attracting tourists into the State, it comes up short as it ranks low as a tourist destination. The reasons came in the fore at a high profile tour and travel fest in the city when the State Tourism Minister and organisers of the fair engaged in a verbal duel accusing each other for the failure.

Before scores of tour operators from across the country, delegates of tourism bodies from other States as well as neighbouring nations; the organisers described the State’s approach towards tourism as “unprofessional”.

The Tourism Minister, Mr Rachpal Singh’s criticisms were refuted as “childish”.

“The State Government has to find its feet to get prominence in the tourism map,” Mr Sanjiv Agarwal, Chairman and CEO of Fairfest Media Ltd – the organisers of Travel and Tourism Fair – said.

His dig at the State’s failure came after the minister blamed the organisers of not doing enough to promote the interests of the State.

“I am unhappy over the fact that the organiser of the fair has not invited small tour operators from the State. Promoters are keen to take away tourists to other states, from West Bengal. They did very little to bring tourists to the State,” he said while the inaugurating the tourism Fair

“They are charging Rs 10,000 per square foot (to showcase their firm at the fair) and many small tour operators couldn’t afford it,” he added.

Refuting the allegations, Mr Agarwal asked the minister to get his ‘facts correct first’.

“Space has been allotted at Rs 1,000 per sq ft and small tour operators from Bengal have booked space at the fair. Participants from the host State are offered around 40 per cent discount,” he said.

He pointed out that West Bengal has been participating in all the fairs organised by Fairfest in ten states in India.

Tourism Budget

According to Mr Singh, the State Government has substantially increased the allocation for tourism — Rs 90 crore for 2012-13 compared to the Rs 36 crore in the previous years.

This apart, the chief minister has directed Urban Development Department and other city development authorities to earmark funds for developing tourism infrastructure, Mr Singh added. “We are spending nearly Rs 310 crore for tourism development in 2012-2013,” he said.

The tourism department has chalked out a Rs 50-crore plan to develop the Dooars in North Bengal as an ‘ideal tourism destination’, Mr Singh added.

Footfall in Darjeeling

According to the minister, Darjeeling witnessed a good growth in number of tourists in the current season to 4.5 lakh, against an average 2.5 lakh every year after the political instabilities eased in the hills. However, the existing infrastructure in Darjeeling could not accommodate the heavy rush this season.

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Published on July 13, 2012
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