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West Bengal to build better roads to attract tourists

West Bengal is giving priority to improving the infrastructure and roads to boost the tourist footfalls in the state by 10 percent in the next five years, a senior government official said on Tuesday.

According to state tourism department`s principal Secretary AR Bardhan, roadways construction and amelioration of road-links is a priority.

“We are implementing a project whereby every 30 km, there will be a motel (drawn on US lines) and a road-side facility. It will be implemented in the coming six months,” he said on the sidelines of Destination East 2015, a tourism promotion event organised by the CII here.

According to the senior tourism official, improvement projects are going on in the Basanti highway, Digha road and NH-31 and NH-31C (in north Bengal) aimed to boost tourism in the state.

“We have already implemented road-works on the Siliguri-Kurseong road and now will work on the Kurseong-Darjeeling connecting road,” he said.

The government is looking actively for private players` participation in river cruises along the Kolkata-Triveni and Sundarbans waterway and construction of eco-friendly hotels and lodges.

Also, it has drawn up a plan to reframe the tourism policy and has come up with numerous incentive schemes for private players to set up projects across the state. The incentive scheme will be implemented in February this year.

“Our objective is to enable one to drive to Sunderbans within two hours from Kolkata at a speed of 80km/hr… Thus, a lot of emphasis is being laid on betterment of roads,” said Vijay Dewan, one of the directors of the board of West Bengal Tourism Development Corp.

International tourist arrivals in the state accounted for 12.45 lakh which grew at 2.4 percent of compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) over the past five years while the domestic tourists accounted for 2.55 crore growing at 5.6 percent CAGR for the same time period.

The state government is aiming at attracting more tourists from Britain, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Australia apart from other 16 countries.

It also has increased the tourism budget to Rs.1,950 crore in the coming three years for development of tourism destinations.

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