Bengal seeks investment in tourism
West Bengal is taking help from international agencies to prepare a complete tourism portfolio of the state as it seeks investment in the sector to create more employment opportunities.
"We have planned to appoint an international public relations agency which will function as an information bridge and help to promote West Bengal in the global map of tourism," principal secretary of tourism G.D. Gautama told IANS.
"The government has already involved a global consultancy firm, Ernst and Young, which is now chalking out a complete tourism map for the state."
To attract more visitors, the West Bengal tourism department is developing infrastructure in different locations, preparing policies and also pointing out the segmented tourism sectors in the state.
"For the first time, West Bengal participated in the largest international tourism exposition, ITB Berlin 2007, which took place in the early half of this month," said Gautama, adding that a British delegation will soon come to explore tourism opportunities in West Bengal.
"We received a very good response from international players after showcasing tourism opportunities in West Bengal. Many of them had expressed keen interest in investing in the tourism sector of West Bengal."
In terms of tourism, West Bengal holds the seventh position in the country with four percent of tourists - domestic as well as foreign - visiting it. Andhra Pradesh is on top of the list with 24 percent of overall footfalls.
West Bengal has snow-capped Himalayan peaks along with sea beaches and the mangrove delta of the Sundarbans.
"Keeping in mind the rich cultural heritage of West Bengal, we are trying to develop a large tourism circuit here both for foreign and India tourists," he said.
"Tourism is the largest service provider in the world and millions can be directly or indirectly involved in this sector. I hope if we can encourage all types of tourism, such as tea tourism, heritage tourism, medical tourism and river cruise, it would create huge employment opportunities in West Bengal," Gautama said.