The state tourism department has decided to build eight houseboats for tourist spots across the state.

While two such boats are ready, one of the eight boats will be given to Gajoldoba in Jalpaiguri district, where the state government has been developing ‘Bhorer Aalo,’ a tourist hotspot, according to state tourism minister Gautam Deb.

“We plan to build eight houseboats for tourists. Two are already ready and will be put into service in the Sunderbans and Howrah. The other six houseboats are under construction, out of which, one is being planned to be used at Gajoldoba near Siliguri. The cost of each houseboat is Rs one crore,” Mr Deb told a press meet here on Thursday.

The minister said that teams called ‘Athihi Bandhuin’ will be formed across the north Bengal region to assist tourists at various tourist spots.

“The main function of the Athihi Bandhuin is to assist tourists at various spots across north Bengal from next month. They will welcome the tourists and provide them with all the hospitality required,” Mr Deb said.

Highlighting on the state budget of Rs 426 crore for the tourism department for 2018- 19, the minister maintained that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is giving good importance to the tourism sector.

The minister further said that ‘Pathasathi’ (motels) are being constructed along the national highways, state highways and other important roads throughout the state. “There are 67 Pathasathis in West Bengal now, which are being run by various organizations and self-help groups. They will now be run by the tourism department,” said Mr Deb.

Pathsathi is a scheme launched by Miss Banerjee with a view to helping people who are travelling.

The motels consist of pay&use toilets, waiting rooms, night shelter and restaurants under one roof at every 50 km of the national highways, state highways and other important roads. Meanwhile, in an unrelated development, Mr Deb said the leopard safari will be introduced at the ‘Bengal Safari: North Bengal Wild Animal Park’ near Salugara in Siliguri from April. “We have spent Rs 4 crore for a nature interpretation center at the Bengal Safari,” he said.