Kolkata – With an eye on attracting both domestic and foreign tourists, the state government has embarked on an ambitious project for the development of an integrated tea tourism circuit.
“The Centre has sanctioned schemes worth Rs six crore for the development of infrastructure and accommodation in North Bengal to promote tea tourism,” Managing Director of West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation Ltd, T V N Rao told PTI here.
Eight areas in North Bengal including Malbazar, Murti, Hilla, Mohua, Samsing, Nagrakata, Batabari have been selected under this scheme, he said.
“Tourists who visit Dooars areas had showed interest in staying in the tea gardens and see how tea leaves are plucked and processed. Tourists are also attracted to the lush green tea gardens and the scenic beauty. So why not promote the tea gardens as tourists spots,” he said.
Rao said that the government was also trying to rope in private parties to commercially exploit the potential of tea tourism through public private partnership.
Hospitality major Ambuja Realty is taking keen interest in developing properties in North Bengal to promote tea tourism and has also identified land for setting up hotels, company sources said.
Rao said that major investment would be made at Murti near Indong tea garden and Malbazar where work has already started to create a tourism facilitation centre and tourism amenities.
The Centre has also requested the state government to amend the Land Ceiling Act to enable tea gardens to utilise five per cent of their total land for tea tourism and horticulture. Currently only Assam had relaxed norms for use of five per cent of the tea gardens for alternative use like tea tourism.
“Land transfer proposals in Hilla and Mohua state owned tea estates, were in process. We also plan to set up tented accommodation in Murti, which is named after the Murti river,” Rao said.
Officials in the tourism department say that North Bengal, especially the Dooars region which also houses the Gorumara National park, the Chapramari wildlife sanctuary, the Buxa Tiger Reserve, attract lakhs of tourists every year.
The government would create a tea tourism circuit with an information centre and tourist amenities for which work was scheduled to begin by the middle of this year and was expected to be completed in stages from the end of 2008, Rao said.