Millennium Post

Bengal set to be promoted as tourism hotspot in Europe, state to hold familiarisation tour

Darjeeling: Bengal is all set to be promoted as a tourist destination in Europe. For this, a familiarisation tour will be organised soon, whereby renowned tour operators from Europe will be taken around the state to familiarise them with the tourist destinations.

"We have plans to tap the European market. Very soon, we will organise a familiarisation programme for tour operators of Europe. The tour operators will be taken around Bengal to familiarise them with the destinations. North Bengal will form an integral and important part of this programme," said Thendup Namgyal Sherpa, joint director, Tourism department.

Sherpa was delivering an address at the seminar entitled 'Destination: North Bengal- sustainable, economic and social development', organised

by the Indian Chamber of Com-

merce and North Bengal Development department, in Siliguri on Friday.

"There is huge potential in Bengal. However, the potential is still untapped in the avenue of adventure tourism and tea tourism," added the joint director.

The impetus at present by the government is on home stays. "Tourists want to taste local cuisines, experience the culture and want to get a feel of

the place. Home stays provide the perfect opportunity for this. The process of registration of home stays has begun and we are coming out with a clear cut policy on home stays," stated Sherpa.

The focus is on selling Bengal with intense marketing in all travel marts in the country and across the globe. "However, in national platforms we see at times that there is absence of aggressive marketing. We are doing our part. The stakeholders have to come forward as well and be a part of the journey together," added Sherpa.

Majority of the domestic tourists in Bengal hail from the southern part of the country. The state government has come up with travel guide books and will soon come up with destination-specific brochures. "We will also give emphasis to thematic tourism promotion," said the joint director.

The importance of North Bengal as a tourist destination could be gauged to an extent by the increase in the number of passengers at the Bagdogra Airport.

"Bagdogra has evolved as a major airport in the country. A major airport handles over 20 lakh passengers annually. There are 22 major airports in the country. Last year, Bagdogra saw a footfall of 29 lakh passengers," stated Subramani P, director, Bagdogra Airport.

Bagdogra was originally designed as a small airport with a passenger handling capacity of 75,000 passengers annually.

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