Millennium Post

From Calcutta, with love

It’s that time of the year again, when Bengalis, no matter where they live, start counting days and checking out the best flight options for the annual homecoming. It’s that time of the year again, when Calcuttans start cribbing about the crowded streets and markets, even as they eagerly scan newspaper columns to know the details of the next designer exhibition.

It’s that time of the year again, when the first parting in the monsoon cloud brings a smile on the faces of hard-at-work artisans at the city’s idol-makers’ hub and is greeted by the general people with the phrase ‘it’s a puja-like day’. It’s the time to end the year-long wait for goddess Durga to arrive with her family and lose oneself in celebrations again. And this weekend, the Department of Tourism, government of West Bengal, rolled into the national capital with this seven-city tourism promotion road show, culminating in Delhi, to extend a warm invitation to tourists here to come and be a part of the experience.

Held in collaboration with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the two-day promotional event, held on Saturday and Sunday at Hotel Ashok, consisted of an audio-visual presentation on the many tourist attractions in Bengal, a display of the handloom and handicrafts from the state, counters set by both government and private tour organisers to help tourists make spot bookings and cultural shows. ‘West Bengal offers varied attractions to the tourist. There are the mountains of Darjeeling, the tea estates of Doar, places like Bankura, Murshidabad and Maldah which are rich treasure troves of history, handicrafts and culture and the colonial remains and metropolitan experience of Calcutta with its many old architectural draws, the mangroves and forests of Sunderbans and also beautiful sea beaches.

The state also offers a lot more in terms of culture tourism, art and handicrafts and folk culture.  In all the places where we have travelled with this road show, we have received very good response from tourists and local tour operators. The state government under the leadership of chief minister Mamata Banerjee is involved in extensive infrastructural growth in the state which will also help tourists,’ said Kishnendu Narayan Choudhury, minister-in-charge of tourism, West Bengal, who was present at the event. While West Bengal drew 18 lakh foreign tourists last year, its position with regard to domestic tourist flow is 9-10th in the country.
It was with the aim to draw more tourists from within the country that the road show had been organised.

While tourists could enquire about round-the year bookings, the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation was ready with a range of puja packages, guaranteed to give the traveller the best flavour possible of the celebrations. Also part of the two-day event was an investors meet and B2B meeting with tour operators. The West Bengal government has planned projects worth approximately 4,500 crore to be developed in the public private partnership model to give a boost to tourism in the state, and discussions and presentations were organised with possible investors for the same. For all the projects, the government will take care of infrastructural developments.

And if all that was too verbose and mind-boggling for the average tourist, there was an array of textiles, kantha stitch saris, batik-dyed umbrellas, local leather-work bags and  pretty hand-painted and brass jewellery to shop from, even as the details of that trip to Bengal is decided on. A bigger exhibition of handcrafts and textiles from the state is on at Cottage Emporium, Jawahar Vyapar Bhavan, Janpath till 8 September. Want more? It’s time to pack your bags for destination West Bengal.
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