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Rediscovering Eastern India Tourism industry in eastern part of the country is witnessing new trends in travel

Updated: January 1, 2011 12:02 pm

Eastern India is now recognised as a year-round destination. The Eastern part of India consisting the states like West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, is popular in the world as an October to April, winter destination. Marketing initiatives by both the government and private sector is successfully addressing with the changing tourism perception and turning it into a round-the-year travel destination. Sunil Dasgupta, President, Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry identified, “In recent years, some positive steps have been taken by the state government (West Bengal) to attract both domestic and foreign tourists, resulting in increasing flow of tourists.”

New Tourism Product in Eastern India

Monsoon Specials: Travel packages for April to October in lush-green countryside in Cherrapunji and Mawlynnong in Meghalaya, Mongpong on the lofty bank of River Tista, just 35 km from Siliguri, Mawlynnong in West Bengal are available.

Rural & Village Tourism: Infrastructure development in various rural destinations and showcasing local culture. Poush Mela, Vishnupur festival, Dooars Utsava, Joydeb Kendulir Mela, Jagadhatri Puja, Bon Bibi Puja, etc are aimed towards showcasing the rural heritage of West Bengal.

Medical tourism: This sub-domain of the industry is estimated at USD 18.7 billion and is growing at about 13 per cent annually in India. Kolkata-Bagdogra-Darjeeling-Gangtok-Bagdogra, Kolkata-Puri-Bhubaneswar-Kolkata etc are becoming popular for affordable and quality healthcare.

Wellness & Spa tourism: Luxurious world-class health spas combining with the best of traditional and modern health practices are catching up in the modern B towns like Siliguri, Asansol etc.

Adventure tourism: Combined with eco-tourism, it makes full use of the diverse and natural wonders of the land of Eastern India.

Wildlife tourism: The new destinations like Bhitarkanika National Park, Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary in Odisha, Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary in Darjeeling, Bhalopahar in the Purulia district of West Bengal are opening up.

Emerging trends

Do you think that the future of travelling includes eco-friendly hotels, a rush in luxury river cruises, plenty choices for medical trips and sky nannies? It is the business-travel industry that is likely to evolve over the next few years in Eastern India.

                The nature and scope of travelling are quickly changing with the growth in the corporate sector and the growing number of urban workaholics. Long vacation two-three weeks is impossible to dream of, so trips are now becoming short. Though the span of continuous on-season travel days has decreased, the number of short trips round the year has increased. “Getting full value for money for these short trips is the top priority,” a corporate executive said. Working with hectic schedules, the dual-income couples find it difficult to enjoy time together. As a result, the demand for weekend getaways is on the rise.

                A survey by CWT on ‘Effective travel management in 2010’, shows that there will be significant changes in the business-travel industry as companies are looking for better travel management and tour operators segmenting services along with selective discounts. It has been claimed that companies now prefer green travel and travellers are more environmentally aware than before. “Business trips are one of the emerging trends in today’s tourism scenario. With the revival of the economic activities, companies are no longer looking for video-conferencing and other options to cut down travelling costs,” informed B Sarkar, Administrative Manager, Vensimal World Travel Agents Pvt Ltd.

                Modern Indian women pay attention in travel packages like trekking tours, camping, adventure trips etc. That is why tailor-made packages for niche groups like women or older couples are in high demand. Scribd, one of the largest social publishing and reading site in the world, suggests that ‘Pet on holiday’ is one of the current trends in the travelling era of the country. A growing number of pet-friendly hotels, resorts, and retreats are offering accommodation in any place of Eastern India to enjoy long or short trip with pets.

Development of tourism in West Bengal

Unfortunately West Bengal is lagging behind other states in attracting a substantial number of tourists though the state is known as the cultural capital of India. The reason of low performance is due to non-availability of adequate infrastructure and proper marketing efforts.

                Following the footprints of states like Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and the Union Tourism Ministry’s Incredible India campaign, West Bengal Tourism Department has decided to appoint an advertising agency for its brand-building exercise and promotional activities to attract tourists in the state that already has two world-class tourist spots listed among the UNESCO’s World Heritage sites. To promote newer destinations and tourism circuits, Rs 20 crore would be spend by the state, Manabendra Mukherjee, the state’s Tourism Minister stated. Despite the fact that the state would invest another Rs 10 crore in publicity and promotional campaigns in the upcoming days, the centre accused the state government for failure in developing infrastructure projects for tourism sector. Speaking at an interactive session at Bengal National Chamber of Commerce Minister of State for Tourism Sultan Ahmed said, “The West Bengal government has pathetically failed to develop tourism infrastructure in the state though financial aid was given.” Ahmed pointed that the centre had given several crores for developing projects at Santiniketan, Dooars, Ayodhya Hills, and Darjeeling among others. He urged all the states including West Bengal to create a land bank for tourism projects.

By Samarpita Roy

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