The state government has been giving much stress to tourism. This is sector which has immense potential in the state, stretching as it is from the Himalayas in the north to the Bay of Bengal in the south, which jungles, valleys, hills, in between.
The new Eco-Tourism Park in Rajarhat on the outskirts of Kolkata, which is a first-of-its-kind urban tourism park in the state, tourism hubs in Gajoldoba near Siliguri and in Jharkhali in the Sundarbans, home tourism initiatives in the Ayodhya Hills, new trekking routes in Kakrajhor and Bolboli in the Jangalmahal area, and a host of other projects have taken shape.
A large part of the district of Purulia had suffered for many years due to incessant terrorist activities perpetrated by the Maoists. Now that peace is slowly but surely returning to the whole region, the government has firmed up plans to introduce for what it calls home tourism. Home tourism, or homestay, as it is more commonly known, is a major initiative taken up in the Ayodhya Hills region of Purulia district.
The Ayodhya Hills is a place with immense potential for tourist activities. Tourists used to go there but that flow has trickled down due to continuous troubles. Now that troubles are a thing of the past, a lot of initiatives are being taken up to bring back the tourists. Among the initiatives is home tourism.
Krishnachura flowering on Ayodhya Hills
Benefits – a refreshing experience
Home tourism has a lot of benefits, both for the tourists and the families involved.
Cheaper: Staying with local families would definitely be cheaper for tourists.
Comfortable: The tourists would get all the facilities for a comfortable stay, and would be able to enjoy in a family atmosphere, which is a big plus.
New type of experience: For tourists, home tourism or homestay would be a novel experience. They would get to spend quality time with a local family, in turn learning about the local way of living, their mores and customs, etc. Such tourists would be able to assimilate in the local milieu, thus ensuring a unique wholesome experience, something not possible by staying in a hotel.
Additional income: Home tourism would ensure an additional stream of revenue for the locals, many of whom find it difficult to earn a sustainable income all through the year.
Local economy: More and more viable tourism activities would boost the local economy, with ancilliary services developing like shops, transport facilities, centres for display and sale of local handicrafts, cultural centres, museums, trekking activities, tourist information centres including tour guides, etc.
Refreshing change: Tourism-related activities would enliven the region that had suffered badly at the hands of the Maoists for a long time. They had terrorized the people and destroyed the economy of the region.
Foreign tourists: For foreign tourists, this would be a well-cherished experience. Village life in India is something that they are not acquainted with, staying as they do mostly in hotels, as home tourism or homestay is not such a developed activity as in many other countries. So for them, experiencing rural India would definitely be a unique thing.
A majestic view of the Ayodhya Hills
Striding ahead in tourism
The state tourism department has of late been participating in a lot of tourism fairs and conclaves to sell the state as a great destination, both for domestic and foreign tourists. It has already participated in the London International Tourism Fair in November 2013. Sea beaches of Digha and the ‘Queen of the Hills’, Darjeeling were the themes at those fairs. This year, the tourism department will also promote heritage tourism in the state, besides several eco-tourism hotspots.
The state tourism department has already participated in the tourism fair held in the last week of January in New Delhi.
Other fairs where the West Bengal Tourism Department would participate this year are
International Tourism Fair in Berlin, Germany from March 6-10 March
Arabian Travel Market in Dubai from May 6-9
Natash Fair in Singapore from August 16-18
ITB ASIA 2014, the trade show for the Asian travel market in Singapore, and Bangladesh Tourism Business Fair in Dhaka, from October 29-31
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