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N Bengal hails state incentives & waivers

SILIGURI: The travel and tourism industry of North Bengal has hailed the State Government's support in the form of waivers and loans in rejuvenating the industry that had borne a brunt owing to the pandemic.

A notification was published by the Transport department of the Government of West Bengal on February 10 declaring "exemption of tax and additional tax for one time for the Passenger Transport Vehicles having stage carriage and contract carriage permits for the period from January 1 to June 30, 2021."

"We are extremely grateful to the West Bengal Government for this kind gesture. It will not only emerge as a major help to thousands of transporters but will also help revive the transport and tourism industry of this region," stated S N Pradhan, president, Himalayan Transport Coordination Committee.

The waiver has been a long standing demand of the transport operators. "With the lockdown owing to the pandemic the transporters have suffered a major jolt. They had given a number of memorandums to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and to me requesting for waivers in vehicle taxes and penalties. Not only did she answer to their request, but she has also taken some landmark steps to rejuvenate the travel trade industry which is the economic mainstay of this region" stated Goutam Deb, Tourism minister.

The government has also agreed to the revision of taxi fares. "Fares have not been increased since long in the Darjeeling district. The District Magistrate is working on the revised rates" added Deb.

The state government will also be giving loans from Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 10 lakh with a waiver of 50 per cent of the interest. Rs 10 crore has been allocated for this.

"A lot of focus has been given to tourism and North Bengal in particular in the Vote on Account.

The state government is also supporting home stays by giving them Rs. 1.5 lakh. Special interest tourism like bird watching is being promoted. This will put our state in the world map of special interest tourism. Such advantages in the tourism sector have been made available in our state only," stated Raj Basu, Convenor, Association for Conservation of Tourism.

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