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Old 12th December 2015, 20:50   #1
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Default WBTDC managing director meets Kolkata BHPians to enhance West Bengal Tourism

West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation's Managing Director, Mr.C.Murugan (I.A.S) called up few Bhpian's from Kolkata to take suggestions on how to improve the tourism further. He is an avid follower of Team Bhp and specially he loves reading the Team Bhp travelogue's section. He considers Team Bhp to be a very authentic and genuine place where people share honest and unbiased reviews. That's why he was keen on meeting few Bhpian's from Kolkata who love traveling. The main objective of the meet was to take feed back's on how to improve the over all quality of the hotels and tourist lodges run by West Bengal Government.

Bhpians present in the meeting were-
Predatorwheelz
BlackPearl
Aj-got-Bhp
gearhead_mait
SouraC
arindam_Xeta
Samba
Mr.Rana Adhikary (Non Bhpian).

From left to right- SouraC, Mr.Amitava Ghosh (GM of WBTDC), arimdam_xeta, Samba, Mr.C.Murugan (Managing Director of WBTDC), gearhead_mait, Aj-got-Bhp, Mr Rana Adhikary. Predatorwheelz missing in the pic.
WBTDC managing director meets Kolkata BHPians to enhance West Bengal Tourism-img_5500.jpg

From left to right- SouraC, Mr.Amitava Ghosh (GM of WBTDC), arimdam_xeta, BlackPearl, Mr.C.Murugan (Managing Director of WBTDC), gearhead_mait, Aj-got-Bhp, Mr Rana Adhikary. Predatorwheelz missing in the pic.
WBTDC managing director meets Kolkata BHPians to enhance West Bengal Tourism-img_5502.jpg

The meet was held on 12.12.2015 at Udayachal Tourist Lodge, Saltlake, over a cup of high tea. West Bengal do have nearly every thing starting from sea, forest, hills, history but still the tourism influx was lacking some where. So we had some brainstorming discussion's like going for better marketing strategy, improving the maintenance and service of government lodges or hotels, to introduce few new properties in few off beat location's and many more which of-course includes road condition and safety of travellers/tourists. I must say he is very keen on improving the present situation and he took all our feed backs in a positive way to improve things further. The time Kolkata Team Bhpians gave to him was also greeted by a nice offer from him. He offered us 50% discount for a over night Team Bhp meet (in a group) in few selected West Bengal Tourism properties.

At the end we asked him whether we can start a thread on this in Team Bhp, so he can get feed backs from many Bhpians's through out India which can be much more helpful than the suggestion's from just few of us. He readily agreed to our proposal and promised us he will follow this thread keenly. Last but not the least if Team Bhpian's can help a state grow its tourism better then there's nothing like it.

Last edited by Samba : 14th December 2015 at 14:40.
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Old 15th December 2015, 08:48   #2
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Default Re: WBTDC managing director meets Kolkata BHPians to enhance West Bengal Tourism

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!
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Old 15th December 2015, 10:38   #3
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Default Re: WBTDC managing director meets Kolkata BHPians to enhance West Bengal Tourism

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samba View Post
West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation's Managing Director, Mr.C.Murugan (I.A.S) called up few Bhpian's from Kolkata to take suggestions on how to improve the tourism further.
...he can get feed backs from many Bhpians's through out India which can be much more helpful than the suggestion's from just few of us. He readily agreed to our proposal and promised us he will follow this thread keenly. Last but not the least if Team Bhpian's can help a state grow its tourism better then there's nothing like it.
The rich diversity of tourism opportunities in WB is equalled by very few other states. From sea level to almost 12000 ft ASL, with a colourful history spanning a thousand years and more, WB has not really managed to put forward this attraction to the tourist from the rest of India, or even the world, for whom tourism to WB means a trip to Kolkata for 2 days, and an overnight boat ride to the Sunderbans. I was therefore grateful to you when you wrote this thread: http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...-tourists.html (West Bengal - A treasure for tourists) to highlight that diversity.

Your meeting with Mr. Murugan seems to make my light-hearted comment in the above thread sound prophetic, and I am very glad this meeting has happened.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
Rated 5 stars. You are hereby appointed Team-BHP's honorary representative to the Tourism Department of WB!
We shall now look forward to more places that you visit in WB, as well as improvements to facilities and connectivity (read: better roads) courtesy WBTDCL and Mr. Murugan.
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Old 15th December 2015, 11:07   #4
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Default Re: WBTDC managing director meets Kolkata BHPians to enhance West Bengal Tourism

It is a great initiative Samba and Mr. Murugan and I am thankful to have been part of this meeting. It will surely take some time to put Bengal on the top ranks of tourist destinations in India, but it is never too late. The intent is there and I am sure with a little help from others the pace will be expedited. So please keep on enriching the wonderful thread started by Samba on the tourist destinations in Bengal, the sweetest part of India
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Old 15th December 2015, 11:08   #5
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Default Re: WBTDC managing director meets Kolkata BHPians to enhance West Bengal Tourism

Wonderful move Samba, Aniket (Predatorwheelz), Sumitro (BlackPearl), Arav (Aj-got-Bhp), Souradeep (SouraC), Arindam (arindam_Xeta), Rana Adhikary (Non Bhpian) and gearhead_mait. Sorry I could not attend despite a really long notice from you as there was some sudden occupation that came up.

We all are aware what plagues the WB tourism these days as compared to a very small state like Sikkim. We have lamented among ourselves all this while over these. I am sure you have brought them to the notice of Mr. Murugan which include but is not limited to roads, infrastructure availability, development & maintenance and most importantly do something to alter the mindset of the existing staff who at times are painfully unaccommodating and nonadjustable.

Since we roam around a lot we do have the reference limits vis a vis the above and it becomes very painful to accept them in our home state. Shamindra da (SS Traveller) has aptly put above that West Bengal is indeed a treasure trove offering myriad opportunities when it comes to diversity. Then why not offer the infrastructure to exploit them ??

Mr Murugan, I am sure your honest intentions will reap fruits soon. All the best to your to noble efforts.

Cheers
Avrendu
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Old 15th December 2015, 12:45   #6
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Default Re: WBTDC managing director meets Kolkata BHPians to enhance West Bengal Tourism

Firstly, I would like to thank Samba for setting up such a useful meeting.
Mr. C Murugan (MD, WBTDC) and Amitava Ghosh (DGMR, WBTDC) were wonderful hosts. They were open to all the ideas shared by us BHPians to improve the tourism in West Bengal. We all agree that West Bengal is a treasure for tourists with diverse landscapes ranging from Sea to the mighty Himalayas, Mangrove forest to Tropical forests, places of Historical Importance to the lovely City of Joy.

But our tourism, somehow, is not upto the mark. We, the people, as well as the Management of WBTDC realize this. With the noble intention of Mr C Murugan, we had a rich discussion with lots of ideas, plans, marketing tactics etc. being discussed.

Few key points from the meeting are:

1) Marketing should be improved regarding the tourism in Bengal in various electronic media. Radio, various social media, advertisement in various forms to be used.

2) Infrastructure (including connecting roads) should be developed including the service being provided at the various WBTDC lodges.

3) Package tours should be conducted to the nearby sights from the various lodges. Leaflets, containing the packages cost and details, should be available from the reception area in every lodge.

4) Loyalty cards could be initiated for an annual fee which would entitle a tourist, say, 7 nights free stay (e.g 3 nights is grade A+, 2 nights in grade A and one in grade A- lodges). This would increase the occupancy of less visited lodges and thereby helping in their promotion. But for this, infrastructure development is the key.

5) Discounts to be given in off season and that should be marketed well.

6) Cancellation fees are a bit on the steeper side. Also, "No Refund" time period is bigger. This should be normalized to ease the life of tourists coming from current stringent work schedules.

7) A blogs section should be started in WB Tourism official website whereby LIVE reports can be shared by tourists in case of any fault in service. This would go a long distance in improving the service quality.

8) WBTDC is planning a coastline road connecting Digha, Mandarmani, Tajpur, Raichak and Bakkhali. It would be a great boost for the tourism sector in West Bengal.

9) In places, where setting up a new WBTDC lodge is a problem, local inhabitants are granted loans to improve tourism in Bengal as part of the Incentive Scheme of WB Tourism Department. Refer here for the details.
But Mr C Murugan pointed that under this scheme, only Hoteliers are gaining the advantage as of now. On the contrary, when I visited some exotic parts of North Bengal, I found that some locals have dedicated themselves to tourism, but they were complaining that they don't get adequate help from the WB government. On hearing this Mt Murugan asked us BHPians to market this fact and let the people know (mainly local inhabitants who have set up their own tourism) of this Scheme. He also said he would personally meet anyone coming up to him regarding this.

Many other points like rotation of staffs between various lodges etc were discussed as well.

Many thanks to WBTDC and fellow BHPians for the nice and fruitful meeting.
Mr C Murugan confirmed that he would like to have a quarterly meeting with us for feedback and discussion.

Now, we have two threads:

One for the beautiful experiences in West Bengal:


Places to see (West Bengal - A treasure for tourists)

and, one for the discussion on the improvement, suggestions etc:

Suggestions for improvement

For Mr. Murugan - Some of the experiences of Beautiful Bengal from my side:

Last edited by gearhead_mait : 15th December 2015 at 12:54.
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Old 15th December 2015, 14:41   #7
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Default Re: WBTDC managing director meets Kolkata BHPians to enhance West Bengal Tourism

I feel it was a great initiative by the MD of West Bengal Tourism to call this meet, to get the first hand information from seasoned travellers. I myself being from West Bengal, its rightly said that we have all kind of nature here like hills, beaches, forests, snow capped mountains etc.

Have travelled to many parts of West Bengal, both developed and under developed places here are few points I would like to highlight which can bring some change to the tourism out here.

1) Its very important to have a very good connectivity between South Bengal and North Bengal. Though Kolkata to Siliguri is well connected by rail and air the connectivity from other major areas like Asansol, Durgapur is still not that good except weekly trains.

2) Frequency of Volvo buses has gone down due to the road condition of NH-34 whereas Mercedes-Benz buses has been off the route since few years. The road condition has also discouraged many people to not to undertake road trips in this region.

3) Government needs to Woo investors to come up with good properties in many prospective areas.

4) The number of road trippers in West Bengal is quite less than in comparison with North South & West India. Its due to the reason of bad roads, very few good eat-outs on highways(for families), same with lodging facility. Get on the highways of other parts of the country you will understand what I mean.

I might have missed lot of points but these are the major issues IMHO. I know NH-34 is under construction and has improved but still not worth travelling with your family, the bone breaking ride and no good amenities can spoil any-ones vacation.

Being from Siliguri I have stressed on North and South Bengal connectivity issues and being a Bhpian I have even stressed on road conditions.
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Old 15th December 2015, 15:26   #8
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Default Re: WBTDC managing director meets Kolkata BHPians to enhance West Bengal Tourism

Quote:
Originally Posted by rahul_kej View Post
...very few good eat-outs on highways(for families), same with lodging facility. Get on the highways of other parts of the country you will understand what I mean.
A very good point that I forgot to mention. This point was also raised in the meeting though.
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Old 15th December 2015, 15:39   #9
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Default Re: WBTDC managing director meets Kolkata BHPians to enhance West Bengal Tourism

This is really great guys.

Rest of the country thinks that WB means Durga puja only, sometimes I have really wondered if we could really adopt a strategy like the other states are doing (Kerala, Gujarat) and showcase what the state can offer to tourists - beautiful beaches, beautiful sunderbans (a match for which can be found nowhere in the country), enchanting Darjeeling, historic Murshidabad, the lush green tea estates of Dooars and so much more.

Good roads and good places to stay in my opinion are the most important things. Because most people nowadays have access to their own transport and even if not public transport is always there

NOTE FROM T-BHP SUPPORT: Please avoid typing...like...this... Read the Announcements carefully before proceeding. Thanks.

Last edited by GTO : 16th December 2015 at 10:14.
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Old 15th December 2015, 17:47   #10
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Default Re: WBTDC managing director meets Kolkata BHPians to enhance West Bengal Tourism

This must have been quite an honor for us in team-bhp, to have been recognised and found worthy enough, for providing inputs, to help improve the experience at the Government properties and subsequently rolled over to suggestions on wider aspects. Main intent being, to make Tourism in Bengal reflect the appeal that it truly deserves due to the diversity it has on offer.

Firstly, we must congratulate the Department for having displayed an enthusiasm to change the status quo. This enthusiasm is also evident from this initiative to engage and seek feedback. We have seen that the WBTDC has renovated quite a few properties and we have also seen some amount of beautification and direction displays across various sites.


Coming to what can be done to make the experience better, will stick to what the Department has direct control on. Although, I am pretty certain that the WBTDC is very competent in its own right and has much better vision on the future they want to move to. Will type down a few thoughts, which can be looked at.


The department can set itself term goals, for example :-
  1. what it can achieve with minimum investment in the short term. (Say a 90 day term)
  2. Some degree of restructuring/reorganising with a little more investment in the Medium term. (Say a 12 Month Plan)
  3. Brand new facilities/infrastructure, new site discovery in the long term. (Say a 2 year plan)

For the Short term, quick gain activities. The following can be looked at (in no specific order)
1> Clean toilets (not only at the Tourist Lodges but at the tourist sites also), especially for women and elderly/disabled.

2> Enforcement of SLA driven approach to servicing the customer.

3> Enforcement of cleanliness of the sites, strictly adhering to "no littering" policy, with strategically and conveniently placed garbage bins. Enforce strict penalty on offenders.

4> Wi-fi connectivity/hotspots at the tourist lodges (if not the sites also). Most customers in present scenario, need to be connected to work while even on a vacation. While out of home state/area many customers fall out of the connected area that their own service provider cater to. Wi-fi credentials, can be charged, as is the model followed by many out of state tourist installations.

5> Empowered security to enforce decorum and keep out trouble/nuisance makers.

6> Campaigns to be run on appropriate media, like banners on important web portals (Yahoo, TOI etc). Most of the customer base being ultra busy these days, the computer happens to be the best platform to attract his attention to make him plan his next vacation.

For medium term
1> Evaluate if "service" can be outsourced to a B2B organisation, who are known to extract better services from the same manpower.

2> Waste/garbage Management, involve a waste handling organisation to manage.

3> Identification of Ecologically harmful elements and replacing them with eco friendly alternatives utilising local employment. Recycling to be invested on.

4> There is no "Welcome to West Bengal" Board on NH2 as you enter WB from Dhanbad side. Please ensure that we do not have such glaring omissions on the other entry points to this state as well.
For the Long term

1> Identification of new sites

2> Streamlining of approach congestion to most tourist sites in our state.

4> Hop-on Hop-off shuttle service, preferably with electric vehicles, between artifacts in tourist towns (like Bankura) with designated parking areas
While these can form a basis for taking an improvement initiative, one might not be exactly bounded by these.

Anyway, on a lighter note, only one person turned up appropriately dressed representing Team-bhp on his shirt.

Last edited by 1100D : 15th December 2015 at 17:48.
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Old 15th December 2015, 18:35   #11
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Default Re: WBTDC managing director meets Kolkata BHPians to enhance West Bengal Tourism

I'm very glad that the people who matter are taking an interest in tourism. I feel there are so many unknown and unexplored experiences in West Bengal. Look at the various Jamindar Bari which serve as resorts. Rajastan has them and they actively promote them.
Another aspect to look into is the local law and order situation. Although outside the preview of the Tourism department. Imagine travelling during the festival season. ( Durga puja/kali puja/saraswati puja) Although I admit, the amount asked is small. But if you're travelling with your family in an unknown area, will you stop the car willingly ?
Where else do we have the locals stopping the car to pay donation ? The local population needs to be sensitized to the situation.
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Old 15th December 2015, 18:51   #12
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Default Re: WBTDC managing director meets Kolkata BHPians to enhance West Bengal Tourism

A big vote of thanks to BHPian Samba for finding me worthwhile to let me in and be a part of this brainstorming meeting with the esteemed Mr. C. Murugan (I.A.S.) who is the Managing Director of West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation Ltd. and Mr. Amitava Ghosh the Deputy General Manager (Reservation & IT) at the WBTDC.

I have a question - Given the option would you prefer to take an Indian Airline Flight over an Indigo Flight ?
The answer to this question is posted at the end of this post .... till then make your minds wander and let the question raised be self explanatory to the state of affairs


My inference on the meeting held with respect to the discussions that took place :
  • Try to take Kerela Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) or Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) as a live example and a role model for the betterment of WBTDC
  • I firmly believe that WBTDC has properties in the Best Locations for the visiting tourists but they lag behind in offering the desired services and facilities to them
  • Inspite of having over 30 Authorized Marketing Agents, there is a scarcity in the Availability of Rooms as we rarely find rooms available on desirable dates whenever we wish to travel (based on consensus). It was brought to light that there are a lot of properties which have very limited number of rooms to offer to it's guests. There is a need to identify the places which have the potential and accordingly the number of rooms in these locations have to be increased. This shall also compliment the operating cost, if not yield profits. It was also proposed to WBTDC to have a single window for making Online Bookings. A nominal Convenience Fee may be charged for such online bookings which people shall be happy to pay in order to get confirmed reservations through online bookings
  • A lot of the properties have Maintenance Issues and needs to be looked into on priority basis first
  • Guests are not provided with any Value Added Services which is a huge point of concern. Pointers are as under :
    1. Continental (CP) Plan to be introduced whereas Breakfast would be made complimentary with the Room Tariff Charged
    2. Wi-Fi Facilities to be made available to the guests - This can be made Free at some locations and on Chargeable basis at some locations depending on the traffic and occupancy
    3. Pick Up and Drop Facility from the Nearest Railway Station
    4. Organised Day Tour/ Sight Seeing Packages to be made available at the Reception/ Travel Desk and put forth the guests at the time of their arrival in order to notify them and make them aware of such facilities being provided
    5. It was also suggested that an option of Payment Gateways to be given for all online bookings in order to benefit the tourists by making them avail the Cash Back Benefits in their Payment Wallet
  • There is always an element of ambiguity in the mind of a traveler regarding the quality that is being offered at the properties of WBTDC. Picture Illustrations on the Websites needs to be updated with the appropriate photograph of the Properties rather than just putting up pictures of the property from outside which just illustrates the facade. Travelers are inquisitive to know about the following :
    1. View of the Room from Outside
    2. View of the Room from Inside
    3. View of the Attached Washroom/ Toilets in the Rooms
    4. View from the Room
    5. View of the Dining Area
    6. View of the Activity/ Play Area
  • This might require a Redesigning of the Website .... so be it
  • WBTDC must offer Premium Category Rooms as well instead of just basic Category Rooms. Nowadays people splurge on travelling and food and want the best for themselves. So preferences differ and there should be something for everyone.
  • In order to standardize service at the properties TIP BOXES can be made where guests can put in their tips instead of tipping individually. The amount collected on a weekly basis in the TIP BOX can be distributed amongst the Service Team in equal amounts thereby trying to maintain a parity in service standards
  • It's important to Identify Locations along with their respective USP's. Meaning to say Select Beach Destinations and even Locations beside the River can have a Swimming Pool to offer to it's guests just like the private resorts thereby travelers shall be able to compare an apple to an apple and be lured to stay at the WBTDC properties.
  • Simplifying Grievance Redressal by making things more easily approachable and letting the public share their thoughts with the concerned who can take the suggestions/ complaints positively and work towards it to provide better services to the guests. Every Invoice issued should have the Complaint/ Suggestion e-mail ID mentioned on it alongwith a Number where they can send a SMS (say by typing 'COMPLAINT') and they can be contacted by the grievance redressal cell in order to understanding their findings and act accordingly by taking the corrective measures.
There are a lot of these internal things that need to be sorted primarily at the ground level first in order to get some recognition from the travelers as an option to experiment. Once the above is sorted in a phase-wise manner over a period of time, thereafter thrusting on Online and Offline Marketing shall yield results.

Now my Answer to the Question - In the given scenario of the present day situation, my answer would be NO and that I would go in with Indigo for obvious reasons. However, if Indian Airlines maintains it's timings well with better on Board Facilities and with Food Inclusive, I would go in with Indian Airlines any day !! I am not getting into the Dreamliner or the Air Hostess part; for God sake let not your mind wander further

Thanks to BHPian gearhead_mait and BHPian 1100D for sharing their valuable views in this subject in detail.

Special Thanks to Murugan Sir for inviting us over and treating us to a sumptuous High Tea over all the brainstorming that was done for a better tomorrow which shall benefit everyone on the whole. He truly is finding his ways to build a better tomorrow and he compliments the saying "Where there is a will, there is a way."

Last edited by AJ-got-BHP : 15th December 2015 at 19:03. Reason: spelling error
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Old 15th December 2015, 20:21   #13
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Default Re: WBTDC managing director meets Kolkata BHPians to enhance West Bengal Tourism

This is a great initiative indeed. Big thanks to Mr. Murugan and all BHPians who made this happen. It might be good to have such meetings at intervals (maybe twice or thrice a year) to catch up and share notes.
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Old 15th December 2015, 20:32   #14
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Default Re: WBTDC managing director meets Kolkata BHPians to enhance West Bengal Tourism

A few years back there was an initiative to promote tourism using the PPP model. Nothing seems to have come of it.

One of the biggest problems I find with tourism in WB is comprehensive accurate information regarding night accommodation: esp. the family friendly (and car parking friendly) aspects of it. Collating this information should not take more than a weeks effort.

Since one cannot say that some of ones own properties are best avoided, I think it would be beneficial if independent reviews (from BHPians say) are posted on the more popular sites. A checklist approach would see to it that something important is not left out. The members here can contribute to what the items on the checklist should be.

Regards
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Old 15th December 2015, 21:18   #15
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Default Re: WBTDC managing director meets Kolkata BHPians to enhance West Bengal Tourism

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Originally Posted by Sutripta View Post
A few years back there was an initiative to promote tourism using the PPP model. Nothing seems to have come of it.
With respect to as much as I am aware of, they are still pursuing the PPP Module as on date. Recently (a couple of months ago) WBTDCL had given a presentation regarding the same to the Members of The Calcutta Chamber of Commerce. But, that is a separate chapter all together as the module has to be luring enough for people to put their hands in it.

I think that this thread would just be an assimilation of the prerequisites for the PPP module to work and be beneficial for all concerned in it.
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