To give a boost to the tourism potential of the Sunderbans, Rs 185 crore is being invested by both the state and private players. While the state tourism department has decided to invest Rs 60 crore, private players are investing Rs 125 crore.
Principal Secretary (Tourism) A R Bardhan said that despite it being a World Heritage Site, Sunderbans has never been very popular among tourists due to the dearth of hotels there. The only government tourist lodge at the Sunderbans has 30 rooms, but those are hardly up to the mark.
“Many tourists, especially foreigners, don’t prefer going there because there is no upmarket hotel or resort at Sunderbans. To change this, the government has earmarked 100 acres of land at Jharkhali. Already, two important projects are afoot. The tourism department will invest Rs 60 crore for the purpose,” Bardhan said.
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He added that Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Limited, with a pilot project at Sunderbans, has forayed into the East. “They have acquired five acres of land and will invest Rs 50 crore in the first phase for a luxury resort. Paper works for the same will be completed within two months and work will begin in six months,” Bardhan said.
For those who would not like to burn a hole in their pockets by putting up at the luxury resort, the department has floated tender for a budget hotel on seven acres. “Techno India Group has won the bid. They will invest Rs 40 crore in the next six months. Another tender for 40 acres will soon be floated,” Bardhan said.
The tourism department is also working closely with Vivada Cruise Services, which will invest Rs Rs 35 crore to add six small jetties of 2 to 4 bedrooms to their existing cruise holiday package to Sunderbans.
Special care has been taken to ensure that no ecological disturbance is caused to the environment there. No buildings will be more than three-storeyed and there will be minimal use of concrete and maximum use of eco-friendly material.
Club Mahindra MD and CEO Kavinder Singh said: “Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Limited has won the bid for development of a resort at Jharkhali. Plans are underway to design and build the same, subject to clearances. The Sundarbans is the largest delta in the world, comprising 10,200 sq km of mangrove forest and boasts of splendid wildlife. This will add to the unique experiences we offer our 1,78,000 members.”
The tourism department has also roped in Ogilvy & Mather (O&M) — an international advertisement agency — to prepare an ad to promote Bengal. Naveen Talreja, Director of O&M Mumbai and Kolkata, said: “One of the highlights will be the forests and mangroves. We have been briefed on a campaign that should include all mass media vehicles like TV, press, outdoor, radio and digital elements like the brand website, Internet and social media.”