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Travelling has become a very serious aspect of our lives especially with rise of women travellers, home stay revolution, roaring of tiger tourism and the “Clean India campaign”. West Bengal with immense possibilities is making a host of new beginnings and is doing its best to place the state on the global tourism map.

If you realise, the state is endowed with nature&’s bounty and has everything from snow-capped peaks to forests and beaches to mangrove swamps. Surojit Bose, joint director, Department of Tourism, West Bengal stated, “Bengal in the present day is becoming visible in the sphere of tourism. The state is making its presence at every domestic and global travel marts. When it comes to amenity and accessibility, it is certainly lagging behind of other states. Three factors that determine the success of tourism industry — amenity, accessibility and marketing and we have identified Bengal into six primary tourist zones — Darjeeling Hills, foothills including Dooars (replete with tea gardens, national parks, wildlife safari and adventure), heritage, historical and cultural tourism (including Malda, Murshidabad, Shantiniketan and Vishnupur), coastal zone in South Bengal, mangroves comprising the Sundarbans and Kolkata. Infrastructure and accessibility in Bengal has taken a leap and no longer remains the same. Helicopter service to tourist destinations has become quite a rage and another airport is opening up in Cooch Behar.”

Bose was speaking on the prospect of tourism industry in Bengal at Travel India 2016, a travel conclave that marks the flagship tourism event of Indian Chamber of Commerce held in association with Incredible India in Kolkata between 5-6 January, which focused on the contributions of outbound travel groups in the growth of Indian tourism industry, role of airlines in promoting the tourist arrivals in the country, development of infrastructure for tourist destinations and circuits and medical tourism.

Bengal ranks in the ninth position in terms of domestic tourism. “The state government is pumping out an Rs 80 crore fund with an aim to develop the coastal circuit in and around Digha including beautification drive, illumination and formation of Marine Drive along the sea beach stretching from Digha to Talsiri. New island destinations are coming up on public-private

New island destinations are coming up on publicprivate participation mode like Sabujdweep in the district of Hooghly and Jharkhali in the Sundarbans. There are new destinations for tourists like Sittong in Darjeeling Hills and Magurmari in Dooars.

Bengal has been a late starter on the tourism radar but will go a long way in the next couple of years. We need to boost our tourist resorts across the globe.

Besides, there is Gajoldoba, an hour drive from Bagdogra airport that prides in having best of infrastructure facilities including golf, star haunts, national parks and will havewater sports facilities in a couple of years time.

A new approach with novel strategies and accessibility is essential for the state to move ahead.”