Anil Punjabi, eastern region chairman of the Travel Agents Federation of India said that the trend of increased tourist footfall in the state during the festive season had been seen for the last three years.
“This year too the bookings have been very good,” said Punjabi.
He said that the steps taken by the state government to boost tourism in the state by attracting tourists have borne fruit.
“<g data-gr-id="51">Duja</g> Puja is the biggest festival in the eastern part of the country attracting more tourists,” Punjabi said.
Apart from the community Durga Puja pandals, the tourists also flock to popular hot spots like Darjeeling and the forests of Jaldapara, <g data-gr-id="62">Dooars</g> and Gorumara.
In south Bengal, the Sunderbans, home to the world’s largest mangrove forests, <g data-gr-id="47">too</g> attract a large number of visitors.
“We are coming up with various tour and tourism packages. We are hoping that this time too the tourism industry in Bengal will do good business during Pujas,” a senior official of Tourism department said.
Punjabi noted that the reverse tourism also flourished during the festive season with Sri <g data-gr-id="52">lanka</g> and Greece turning out to be the top draws.
Karan Anand, head of relationships, Cox & Kings, more than agreed, saying, “We feel there will be 20 <g data-gr-id="54">per cent</g> increase in the number of outbound tourists <g data-gr-id="53">fropm</g> Bengal.”
He said that destinations like Greece, Turkey, South Africa and Spain are the favourites <g data-gr-id="64">while</g> in the domestic sector Kashmir, Kerala are the top draws.
The fall in Euro rates has worked to the tourists’ advantage coupled with competitive air fares and lucrative tour packages. Another international tour and travel company, Thomas Cook India’s internal research and analytics reveals 26 per cent upsurge in holiday bookings from Kolkata for Durga Puja and nearly 75 <g data-gr-id="49">per cent</g> of the travellers have booked their holidays almost 2 months in advance.
Shibani Phadkar, senior vice-president and head - Leisure Travel (Outbound) Products & Operations, Thomas Cook (India), said, “Bengali holidaymakers <g data-gr-id="60">plan</g> travel at least two months in advance - typically by August. We are witnessing <g data-gr-id="58">strong</g> increase in bookings - over 26 <g data-gr-id="61">per cent</g> compared to last year’s.”
The tour operators have designed their puja packages keeping in mind the Bengalis’ inclination towards art and culture. Hence, an official of the Thomas Cook said, a significant number of bookings have been made for Europe - France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland.
The tour operators have also noted significant bookings for south Asian countries of Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong-Macau.