Tourism projects planned in north Bengal hope with minister Deb

Minister Gautam deb
Three state tourism projects planned in north Bengal and announced in this year's budget are yet to take off, but with Gautam Deb at the helm of affairs in the department, stakeholders of the industry are hopeful that the proposals would be taken up soon.
In February, when state finance minister Amit Mitra presented the 2016-2017 budget, he had said the tourism department had taken up three eco-tourism projects - at Tinchulay, near Darjeeling, Gossainhat, near Gayerkata in the Dooars, and Sipchu, near Nagrakata in the Dooars.
"The finance minister had also said that the budgetary allocation for the tourism department had been increased to Rs 295 crore in the current fiscal from Rs 257 crore in 2015-2016," a source said.

The minister had mentioned in his budget speech that 103 new tourism projects had been completed between 2011 and 2015, whereas between 2007 and 2011, only 51 projects had been completed.
Soon after the announcements, the model code of conduct came into force for the Assembly polls. After the results, the tourism department got a new minister. Former north Bengal development minister Gautam Deb replaced Bratya Basu, who was in charge of tourism department before.
According to sources, Deb's selection as the tourism minister has made the stakeholders of the industry in north Bengal hopeful.
"Despite tourism being one of the top priorities of the state government and the chief minister, who has time and again given impetus to the sector and intends to promote it for generation of employment and revenue, performances of the previous two tourism ministers - Krishnendu Narayan Chowdhury and Bratya Basu - have been miserable," a senior tour operator based in Siliguri said.
"In fact, in north Bengal, it was Gautam Deb - who was the north Bengal development minister then - who took up the task of monitoring and executing a number of important tourism projects planned by none other than the chief minister," he added.
Raj Basu, a veteran in tourism industry from Siliguri, said: "We are confident that Gautam Deb will live up to the expectations of the chief minister. We had demanded earlier that the tourism minister should be from north Bengal as the region accounts for around 80 per cent of the total tourists visiting the state."
He added: "We are hopeful that the department will frame an ideal tourism policy and focus on soft skill development of those involved in the sector, coupled with marketing of the state as a tourism destination in the national and international markets."
Samrat Sanyal, the working president of the Eastern Himalaya Travel and Tour Operators' Association, said Deb's knowledge of the terrain would be of immense help. "He is well aware of the potential of this sector in north Bengal and also has a clear idea about the terrain. We hope that the projects announced during the budget would be taken up soon and new sites will come up and most importantly, the minister can bring about integration of different service providers of the industry. Such integration would lead to better services to tourists," he said.
Deb, who is in Calcutta, said: "I am in touch with the officials of my department and I am gathering information from them. We are determined to work and see that the tourism sector flourishes in our state. It is one of the priority sectors of the government as was mentioned by the chief minister. I will talk to stakeholders."(TT)

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