The state tourism department is seeking private partnerships and investments in tourism development projects worth Rs 190.6 crore. The projects included a 250 km long river cruise and the development of a beach and a hill destination; state tourism and small-scale cottage industry minister, Manabendra Mukherjee, said on Sunday.
Apart from seeking investment in manufacturing, real estate and chemical sector, the minister informed that state government has given special thrust on making the tourists' destinations more attractive.
Till June 2006, the department could line up Rs 640 crores in this sector.
"But we need more and more investors in this field to invest in infrastructure building. We are also negotiating with different corporate houses to line up investment for development of a Ganga Heritage Cruise of 250 km from Lal Bagh in Murshidabad in the north through six districts and ending at Kolkata," Mukhopadhyay said.
The project would cover locations which reflected the three cultures that shaped Bengal - that of the Islamic Nawabs, the Vaishanava movement and European colonialism. Locations like Murshidabad, Palashi, Nabadwipdham and Mayapur would be covered. The estimated cost of this project was around Rs 49.5 crore.
The plan proposed use of catamarans, speedboats, floating hotels, pontoon jetties and air-conditioned buses as also shore-based hotels along the river. Shankarpur, 185km south of Kolkata, was a destination, which offered several kilometres of unspoilt beach.
It would be developed at a cost of Rs 84.8 crore. The project would include beach beautification of beach, a handicrafts complex, amusement park, shopping malls and three star hotels and resorts.
The hill destination to be developed would be Ayodhya Pahar, part of the 2000 feet high Dalma hills range in Purulia west of Kolkata with dense forest cover and vibrant tribal communities.
The area would be developed at a cost of Rs 56.3 crore. The project would include landscaping, afforestation, a handicrafts bazaar, hotels and amusement park.
In all, 64 new minor hotels were registered in the state after the announcement of capital investment subsidy and other incentive schemes in April 2005, the minister maintained.
Mukhopadhyay admitted there was a shortage of budget hotels in Kolkata. "The Tata Sons have expressed their willingness to develop budget hotels in and around the city.
Not only in cities or upcoming business and industrial hub, the Group has plans to set up Ginger even at small towns.
The Group is also thinking of developing this type of budget hotel-"Ginger"-at Singur, Durgapur, Siliguri, Haldia, Asansol and Rajarhat.
The department would modernise and expand its 41 existing tourist lodges but would like to do it on a public-private partnership model," Mukhopadhyay added.
The department had succeeded in promoting offbeat destinations like the Dooars region, which saw a sharp rise in visitors and the commissioning of around new 30 hotels in the Gorumara and Lataguri areas, the minister claimed.
"We have submitted a detailed project plan in this regard with the Union Tourism Ministry. The Union Tourism Minister, Ambika Soni, has expressed all kinds of support in this regard. The department is just waiting for the Union Tourism Ministry's nod, so that we could carry out our projects accordingly," the minister said.