The Footloose Bengali is terrified. The recent spate of attacks on civilians in Kashmir and Mumbai are sending Kolkatans in search of greener holiday pastures this autumn -- during the Durga Puja, when the Bengali bhadralok yearns to get away from the din, bag, baggage and family.
Six tourists from Bengal were killed in the 11/7 strike in the Valley. Earlier, the terrorists had bombed a tourist bus from Bengal.
Result: Rajasthan scores this season. The Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC) tourism department is going all out to woo “tourists with promises of better security”. It has set up a tourist assistance force (TAF), to ensure tourists’ safety. “The department is determined to solve the problems faced by the tourists and protect them from criminals,” said Sundeep Bhutoria, secretary of Rajasthan Foundation, Kolkata, a part of the RTDC.
The TAF has been deployed in almost all important tourist stops -- Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Pushkar (Ajmer) and Mt Abu. “The TAF team has been especially handpicked. The personnel were trained in law and order, tourism trade, tourists’ behaviour and preliminary medical aid,” said Harimohan Bangur, president of the foundation.
According to the foundation, the tourist inflow to Rajasthan after the Kashmir strikes has increased by 54 per cent -- of which 16 per cent is from the east. Bengal contributes to about seven per cent.
Goa is also another destination. The state tourism department has deployed 300 policemen on the beaches and the city in general and 73 technicians would be recruited for a new coastal security police force for the three new coastal police stations.
The three coastal police stations, cleared by the Union home ministry, will be set up in Mobor in south Goa, Betim and Siolim in north Goa. Tamil Nadu is also shoring up security at its tourist hotspots -- the temples. “We have a strict security cordon at the shrines,” said G Navanitharangan, tourist officer, Tamil Nadu Tourist Information Centre.