Siliguri, 17 September
With help from the north Bengal development department (NBDD) and in association with tour operators including the Association for Conservation and Tourism (ACT), the tourism department is set to observe World Tourism Day (WTD) on 27 September by setting up a tourist assistance booth at five places in north Bengal during the festive season.
Three help desks will be set up in Siliguri, covering New Jalpaiguri Railway Station, Tenzing Norgay Bus Terminus on Hill Cart Road and Bagdogra Airport.
Two other assistance booths will be set up at Malbazar and Alipurduar in the Dooars. Notably, this year, the theme for World Tourism Day is ‘Tourism and Community Development.’
The NBDD, in association with the tourism department, has planned to observe WTD in Siliguri, with a view to making the place a hub for ‘Buddhist Tourism,’ a central point from where tourists could visit the other Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the region including Darjeeling, Sikkim and Bhutan.
According to the convener of ACT, Raj Basu, the importance of Siliguri has increased following the launch of air services from Bagdogra to Kathmandu.
“Siliguri was out of the Buddhist Tourism Circuit. After introduction of the air service between Bagdogra and Katmandu, it has come under the circuit. Our main object is to make Siliguri a hub for Buddhist Tourism from where tourists can go to places where the Buddha’s footsteps fell,” Mr Basu said.
“At present, tourists can go to Nalanda from Siliguri by National Highway 31 within six hours. Tourists can come here from Lumbini in Nepal in three hours after the introduction of the Kathmandu flight service from Bagdogra,” he added.
According to Mr Basu, ACT will observe WTD in many villages in Bangladesh for 10 days beginning 27 September to uphold the theme ‘Tourism and Community Development.’