“The private sector has a pivotal role to play in developing the tourism scenario of the state", said Mr Gautam Deb, Hon’ble Minister-in-charge, Department of Tourism, Government of West Bengal. Mr Deb was speaking at the inaugural of the 9th edition of Destination East – a tourism travel mart organized by CII and the Department of Tourism, Government of West Bengal and the 3rd Bengal Tourism Global Meet.
The Tourism Minister, in his deliberations, spoke about the Tourism District Boards set up in all districts to augment the growth of tourism across districts. He emphasized that private stakeholders must come forward and work hand in hand with the government to convert the heritage properties into beautiful tourist locations.
Mr Deb spoke about the state of the art tourism hub that is being set up in Gajoldoba in a PPP mode.
Buttressing Mr Deb’s comments, Mr Atri Bhattacharya, Principal Secretary, Departments of Home & Hill Affairs and Tourism, Government of West Bengal said that West Bengal is “looking to give tourists not only beautiful destinations but also holistic experiences.” He said that the state is currently focusing on eco wildlife, leisure and heritage tourism and in the next 18-20 months the Department will be able to put together heritage properties starting with 15-25 rooms in quite a few destinations. The Tourism Secretary spoke about the Durga Puja Carnival, Basanta Utsav and similar festival products that have been developed. Mr Bhattacharya also added that the state will now focus to “aggressively market” its tourism products.
According to Mr Debashis Sen, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Information Technology & Electronics, Government of West Bengal and Chairman & Managing Director, WBHIDCO, the need of the hour is to concentrate on technology-led niche areas to attract tourists like the medical tourism space and also business tourism.
Mr Aditya Ghosh, CEO, South Asia, OYO Hotels, said that the tourism geography’s lack of access and exploration, expensive tariffs have been put successfully behind and the sector is looking positive. Mr Ghosh raised the point of the new guideline that central government has come up in the form of bed and breakfast policy. This, according to Mr Ghosh, “has seen a massive explosion of guest houses and homestays”. At the same time, the clause of the owner to be a resident of the house is limiting the scope of business, he added. He sought the intervention of CII to raise the matter to appropriate authorities in order to reach to a conclusion.
He also spoke about one of the more important areas in the hospitality space which is the replacement of handwritten guest registers with digital registers. These digital registers can offer real-time data of all guests which can be availed by the police and government if needed, Mr Ghosh said.
The CEO, South Asia of OYO Hotels said in his address that OYO is extremely keen to set up an OYO Centre of Excellence in Kolkata and some other parts of the state to facilitate training of young people and skilling new talents.
Mr Vijay Dewan, Chairman, Tourism subcommittee, CII Eastern Region said that a large number of international tour operators present at DESTINATION EAST are selling MICE who would get the opportunity to see the venue and other facilities available in Kolkata so that they can bring in business here.
Giving the concluding remarks, Mr Atul Bhalla, Co-Chairman, Tourism subcommittee, CII Eastern Region said that the experience of working in this state in the tourism and hospitality sector has been great. According to Mr Bhalla, the West Bengal Government has been giving a lot of focus and priority to this sector which has helped in a huge jump in the tourist footfall, both international and domestic, in the state. He stressed on the existing and the upcoming facilities for conventions which would help Kolkata to take a lead in the MICE activities.
The Bengal Tourism Global Meet had sessions on the emerging opportunities of MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Events) in West Bengal, global and regional connectivity vis-à-vis tourism and experiencing Bengal and creating circuits beyond borders.
The Meet is an integral part of Destination East which has entered its 9th edition. This tourism buyer-seller mart has over 110 international tour operators, travel bloggers, travel writers from 43 countries meeting over 66 Indian tourism stakeholders over 2 days at the Biswa Bangla Convention Centre in Kolkata.
14 January 2018