In a bid to boost tourism in the eastern part of the country and promote an integrated Eastern India tourism corridor comprising five states-West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and Chattisgarh-the Confederation of Indian Industry, Eastern Region, has formed a special 20-member tourism committee of officials from the tourism department of the five states and various stakeholders.
The special tourism committee has come out with a comparative analysis study called 'Vision Tourism', which outlines the potential and prospects of Eastern India, a comparative analysis between these states based on tax structure, tourism potential, infrastructure, budget allocation, connectivity, best practices, skill website updation, online booking facilities etc.
The study found out that in terms of tourism budget, Jharkhand ranks the highest with Rs 160 crore (Rs 1.6 billion), compared to West Bengal's Rs 31 crore (Rs 310 million), Orissa Rs 44 crore (Rs 440 million), Bihar Rs 25 crore (Rs 250 million) and Chattisgarh Rs 50 crore (Rs 500 million).
However, in terms of publicity budget, West Bengal spends the highest at Rs 11 crore (Rs 110 million) annually, followed by Jharkhand which spends around Rs 10 crore (Rs 100 million) and Orissa Rs 4.5 crore (Rs 45 million). Bihar spends the least at Rs 1.10 crore (Rs 11 million).
In terms of connectivity, West Bengal ranks the highest with domestic flights connecting 31 cities inside India and 11 international locations.
In terms of luxury tax on room tariff in Jharkhand it is 3-7 per cent, while in West Bengal the luxury tax is as high as Rs 1,000 or five per cent. In Orissa, it is not applicable.
Except for Chhattisgarh, all the four states have online booking facility and functioning websites.
"The 20 member special tourism committee has been formed given the huge untapped potential that eastern India has in tourism. The committee has come out with its comparative analysis, which is a preparatory note to facilitate dialogue with respective state governments so that an integrated Eastern India tourism grid can be formed like the north eastern states or South India. The best practices can be shared to boost tourism in Eastern India on the whole, CII is working with state governments to promote a single Eastern India tourism corridor as well to create a synergistic approach," said Saugat Chatterjee, regional director, CII Eastern Region.
Keeping this objective in mind, CII along with the department of tourism, West Bengal, had also organised a one-day conference and exhibition, a forum for all tourism industry stakeholders in Kolkata two months back.
"Going forward we plan to continue this Tourism East series, which is focused on projecting Eastern India as a whole and not a single state. The next forum is being planned in Orissa in the month of July. This would be followed by similar forums in Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand," he mentioned. CII is also planning to develop a blueprint of prospects of eco-tourism, rural tourism, tea tourism in West Bengal. We are working closely with the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation, he pointed out.