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Expansion & Sustainable Development of Tourism Sector in West Bengal

Updated: May 6

This piece is drafted by Swaniti Initiative, a social enterprise working towards improving public service delivery, as a token of knowledge support in favour of the Bengal Policy Hackathon - co-hosted by Bengal Development Collective and Public Policy Club - IIM Calcutta


Both domestic and foreign travellers fall under the umbrella of modern tourism. The purpose of tourism is to promote awareness of the value of maintaining natural resources, cultural diversity, and cultural balance. Both directly in the tourism industry and in other support and resource management sectors, tourism creates jobs locally. West Bengal's essential social infrastructures, including local transportation, communication, and others, are improved as a result of tourism. The article offers a theoretical foundation for West Bengal's tourist development and the problems and worries that go along with it. The main goal of this is to promote West Bengal as a top travel destination and offer chances for the tourism industry, which will boost the local economy and bring in money for the state as a result. The ability of tourist sites to practice sustainable use and protection of essential resources is crucial to the success of tourism.


Modern definitions of tourism include both domestic and foreign travellers. People are temporarily relocated to locations other than their usual places of employment and habitation. A traveller who moves from location to location or frequently visits the same location is an example of a pleasure-seeking tourist. All commercial endeavours structured around the requirements of such travellers are categorised as tourism. The flow of tourists between locations is influenced by how appealing a nation is on the whole and by any business or cultural ties. International excursions that are focused on leisure and holidays are more prevalent and noticeable today. Today, the majority of nations are promoting tourism to meet their economic and social goals. Today, tourism is a significant part of India's economy and it has a significant impact on the nation's sustainable growth. India has succeeded in becoming the destination of choice for both domestic and international tourists.

Travellers from abroad are exposed to India's unique culture through tourism. Similar to how it has in many other developing economies, the tourist industry has played a significant role in creating a foreign exchange, job opportunities, and household income for Indians. As a result, it appears that the growth of the Indian tourist industry was just as significant as the growth of other Indian economic sectors. In truth, the Indian tourism industry has recently reached new heights. Both the number of tourists visiting and the associated revenue are rising sharply. According to estimates from the World Travel and Tourism Council, this industry today contributes more than 4% of the nation's GDP and supports more than 20 crore jobs.

North India draws the most tourists out of all the diverse parts of the nation. Western India draws 29% of all international tourists, while 49% of them come to this region of the nation. South India maintains its third-place ranking with 18% of international visitors, while only 4% of visitors come from the Eastern area.

Tourism in West Bengal

The tourist has a fantastic opportunity to discover the many tourist destinations in West Bengal thanks to the attractions there. The potential for tourism in West Bengal is enormous. West Bengal is a significant state in India, and as such, it receives a tonne of annual visitors who are utterly enthralled by the variety of tourist sites. The West Bengal Attractions offers travellers a wide variety of significant tourist locations to pick from, ranging from the numerous state museums to the distinctive art galleries, from the educational and entertainment centres to the technical marvels.

West Bengal's tourist attractions are a reflection of the state's rich cultural heritage and traditional legacy that has persisted into the modern day. The museums in West Bengal contain artefacts from the state's rich historical past while upholding traditional traditions. In the museums, which are the repository of antiquities, sculptures, and artefacts from the past, one can get a sense of the grandeur and lost glory of West Bengal.

The West Bengali people's strong artistic talent and inventive imagination are on exhibit in the art galleries. The lengthy hallways of the art galleries reflect the intellectual development of the artists who use their works of art to convey their deepest emotions. West Bengal is fortunate to have a large number of parks and gardens that serve the twin purpose of instructing and entertaining visitors. The magnificent white Victoria Memorial monument serves as a reminder of the British occupation of our nation and offers us historical knowledge, while the lovely gardens offer respite from the bustle of city life.

While relieving us of the stress of our daily lives, Science City offers visitors the chance to learn about numerous scientific endeavours. The bridges that link different parts of the city together serve as a prime illustration of West Bengal's engineering prowess. There are numerous bridges in West Bengal that are unique in all of India.

Rural Tourism in West Bengal

Numerous rural places in West Bengal are considered prospective locations for rural tourism due to the concept's association with the state's great variety and diversity in terms of customs and traditions, cultures, heritages, commemorations, arts and handicrafts, and artistic execution. The West Bengali administration is placing a high priority on creating the infrastructure required to support rural visitors.

In the Endogenous Tourism Project run by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, UNDP, and the Women's Interlink Foundation, potential rural tourism destinations have been identified as Ballavpur Danga in Birbhum district for folk dance, Sonada village in Darjeeling district for heritage, Antpur village in Hooghly district for Sari weaving, Kamarpukur village in Hooghly district for spiritual greatness and crafts, and Mukutmanipur in Bankura district for Sari. Tourism-related events like the Poush Mela, the Dooars Utsav, and the Vishnupur Festival are designed to highlight the state's rural history. Hindu and Islamic shrines, folk music like Baul (from Birbhum district), Vhawiya (from Coochbehar district), and Bhaitali (from Murshidabad district), classical music like Bishnupur Gharana, some folklore and legends, dance like Chau (from Purulia district), and a variety of eye-catching arts and handicrafts items like brass works, cane and bamboo works, silk and cotton textiles, hand embroidery (kan Rural fairs and celebrations, such as Joydev Kenduli Mela and Jagatdhatri Puja, are crucial to Bengali rural cultures (of Kagram, Murshidabad district).

Growth & Performance of Tourism in West Bengal

Apparently, the pattern of visitor arrivals is a significant predictor of the current demand situation and indirectly infers the health of the tourism sector, including the supply side. West Bengal is a beautiful region with a wealth of historical, cultural, and natural resources as well as breathtaking beaches, mountains, and animals. Only a few Indian states offer the same level of variation as West Bengal. In recent years, one of the State's most dynamic industries has been tourism.

Key highlights:

  • The West Bengal Tourism department has signed an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with FAITH for preparing a roadmap for further development of tourism in the state

  • The state government along with the private sector will invest Rs. 5,000 crores (US$ 646.16 million) in the tourism sector in the next 3 years, which will create jobs for 200,000 people

  • The state has good infrastructure for encouraging tourists. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Airport in Kolkata is an international airport. Tourist destinations are accessible due to a wide network of national and state highways. Howrah, Sealdah & New Jalpaiguri are major railway hubs

  • In 2019, domestic tourist arrivals in the state were 92.36 million and foreign tourist arrivals had crossed over 1.65 million

  • As per State Budget 2021-22, the government has allocated Rs. 457.38 crores (US$ 63.20 million) for developing tourism in the state

  • In 2019-20, 22 new tourist projects were undertaken including the beautification of Jagannath Temple at Digha and the riverside beautification of Ganga at Diamond Harbour in South 24 Parganas


The major obstacles are the need to protect the environment and natural resources, the need for education, for tourists and locals to have a proper understanding of each other, and the need to create a democratic movement that enables people at all levels to take part in the development of the tourism industry. In terms of human resources, the tourism industry has a number of difficulties; one of the most significant of them is the quality of the workforce. The need for qualified, quality workers is a critical issue facing the sector.

The development of a more suitable kind of tourism to replace "Mass Tourists" is one of the major areas for West Bengal's tourism growth. The problem facing West Bengal's tourist industry is executing and building appropriate tourism at the grassroots level. Appropriate tourism is a type of tourism that is more friendly and useful to the local population. Hotels of all shapes and sizes are springing up all over India without any consideration for the environment's delicate balance or even the most basic protection for the possessions and lives of visitors. For nations like India, where tourism will be the mainstay for creating jobs, advancing society, and generating foreign cash, this is extremely risky.

Nowadays, several state tourism organisations also operate hotels. These institutions undoubtedly provide a very good service for the rising domestic tourist, but they also lack the necessary infrastructure. More so than before, they lack skilled labour. Natural, social, and cultural resources must be preserved and used in a sustainable manner. Therefore, tourism should be planned and managed within environmental constraints and with adequate consideration for the long-term suitable use of natural and human resources.

Taking into account environmental costs and advantages, tourism should help a variety of local economic activities, but it shouldn't be allowed to completely replace other sources of local revenue. With the assistance of the government and the industry, local communities should be encouraged and required to take part in the planning, development, and management of tourism. To ensure an equal distribution of the advantages of tourism, special attention should be devoted to involving indigenous people, women, and minority groups.

Since the tourism business requires a lot of labour, there should be an integrated HRD system with cooperation from the public and commercial sectors to develop human resources to fulfil the needs of the sector. In India, red tape, unnecessary paperwork, and time-consuming compliance with rules and regulations frustrate tourists as well. Foreign travellers may encounter language hurdles in addition to customs and immigration processes.

Future tourism's success is inextricably linked to how well the sector and the tourist system comprehend and take into account the essential trends that are supporting its growth. The development of human resources, marketing, regulation, and product improvement are the most crucial elements for a successful tourism industry. The State plays a crucial role in the tourism industry since it controls many resources such as foreshore areas along the coast, historical sites, forests and wildlife, inland water bodies, and important infrastructure like ports, roads, and airports.


The development of the tourism industry must be ecologically sustainable because it depends on nature and the preservation of the natural world. The ecological process cannot be ignored. Similarly to this, tourism allows visitors to truly experience the State's and the nation's distinct cultures. As a result, the development should make sure that socially and culturally responsible tourism development is compatible with the locals' way of life and values.

The focus of the action plan should be on community involvement in tourism development and planning, as well as training for the staff involved in it so they can deliver high-quality services without undervaluing them. In the plan of action, it is crucial to make sure that the community receives benefits that are dispersed widely enough for everyone to see.

In the same vein, a legislative and procedural framework that appropriately addresses societal ills like exploitation, child abuse, sex tourism, interference with historic products, etc. is required. In conclusion, the Department of Accessible Tourism faces various obstacles and bottlenecks that are directly at fault. Some of those might not be too challenging to handle or manage. A certain level of dedication, sincere efforts, and cooperation on the part of direct stakeholders would be required. It would be necessary to implement appropriate policy procedures and higher-level inter-departmental coordination mechanisms for more complicated challenges requiring significant financial commitment and coordination.


Bengal Policy Hackathon: Round II Problem Statements

Policymakers typically search for substantially more effective actions that move things in the correct direction despite the complexity of barriers at various levels and resource limitations. The key success elements for every policy action can be revealed through thorough research using both quantitative and qualitative data description and analysis.

In light of this, we invite research articles on any one of the following subjects using any appropriate approach (quantitative, qualitative, or both):

Topic 1 - Mitigating financial crunch in rural tourism entrepreneurship in West Bengal

Topic 2 - Mitigating perceptual apprehension about under development of West Bengal to attract more tourists

Top Submission (from Bengal Policy Hackathon):

Nichomacheans - Whitepaper
Download • 2.18MB


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