Special Correspondent

Sound and light to enliven Raj era monuments

Family, relatives and friends tourism, sports tourism and film tourism

Major role for public-private partnerships

Kolkata: The West Bengal government has unveiled a new tourism policy, effective April 1, creating innovative product categories — family, relatives and friends tourism, sports tourism and film tourism. It will also encompass a revised incentive scheme, to be announced separately, replacing the existing one.

Rich with heritage products dating back to its colonial past, the State plans to launch sound and light shows to enliven the Raj era monuments and set up medicities to tap the growing area of medical tourism.

Hop-on-hop-off buses and a palace on wheels are also areas which the government is keen on exploring.

MoU with Sinclairs

The policy, was unveiled by Tourism Minister Manab Mukherjee, sees a major role for public-private partnerships. A memorandum of understanding was signed on Saturday between the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation and the Sinclairs group for setting up a slew of greenfield projects including hotels, service apartments and training facilities on an investment of Rs. 200 crore by 2013.

The policy has been guided by a strategy paper prepared by the management consultancy agency Ernst&Young, engaged by the Tourism Department.

On medical tourism, the policy paper says the State will encourage the setting up of more specialised treatment facilities including medicities.

Noting that the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is an exemplary tourism product, it says there are excellent possibilities of introducing palace-on-wheels in circuits within the State including the DHR as well as on Buddhist circuits, where it will have to be done in collaboration with the Railways and neighbouring States.

Tourist police

As for sports tourism, the policy stresses the need to project the State more prominently as a venue for national and international events.

For attracting film shoots, it wants to promote its locales which include the eastern Himalayas, the Dooars forests and the Bay of Bengal.

The State is also exploring the possibility of introducing a tourist police force.