To make West Bengal the next tourism hub, the state tourism department will roll out a new tourism road map to promote cultural tourism and preserve heritage buildings in the state in the next six months, principal secretary, department of tourism, Vikram Sen, said on Monday.
The state is considered the fourth most popular for domestic tourists and sixth for international tourists, according to the latest data by the ministry of tourism, government of India. “The concept of tourism is changing across the world. Its not about wildlife, scenic beauty and forests anymore. It’s about sharing your cultural milieu and way of life. We have to move from static tourism to cultural tourism,” Sen said.
At a discussion titled, Heritage Tourism- the way forward’, he announced that a team from the United Nation’s World Tourism Organisation, leading international organisation responsible for promoting tourism, will visit the city on February 6 to help formulate the road map.
The emphasis, he added, would be on identifying and converting old heritage buildings into tourist attractions, which would be of immense interest to foreign tourists, most of whom come from Europe and the US.
The state saw 235,000 foreign and 8,500,000 national tourist arrivals in 2012. “We don’t have the ancient temples and stone architecture of Agra, Rajasthan or Delhi. But we have colonial buildings and old mansions of rajas, nawabs and zamindars in Murshidabad, Bankura, Purulia and Malda. These, combined with our cultural and natural diversity offer something unique for all kinds of tourists,” Sen said.
He has appointed a heritage consultant to identify heritage buildings in the state; three buildings at Jhargram, Murshidabad and Chuchura have already been identified to be converted into heritage hotels.