In a bid to improve tourism infrastructure in the Sunderbans, the West Bengal government has solicited the engagement of the private sector. Eco-friendly hotels, entertainment arenas, and houseboat services might soon be introduced in the mangrove forest region. By Eshita Srinivas
A dense, verdant mangrove forest, Sunderbans is home to spotted deer, boars, crocodiles, Gangetic dolphin, and the Royal Bengal Tiger. Thousands of tourists throng the region every year for a glimpse of these species as well as the forest’s pristine beauty. To add to this experience and further promote tourism in the region, the government of West Bengal declared that they would improve the tourism infrastructure of the region, noting that eco-friendly hotels and entertainment arenas are in the works. Houseboat services are also being considered.
West Bengal last introduced ferry rides and package tours to the Sunderbans
Indranil Sen, the West Bengal State Tourism Minister, noted that the government was making every effort towards generating tourism in the Sunderbans. He added that a collaboration with the private sector is underway towards the same, with plans to set up eco-friendly hotels and entertainment arenas around the region in the works, Business Standard reports.
Since 2011, the state has introduced package tours to and from Sunderbans as well as ferry rides, on tourism department vessels, to the jungle and back. Tourists often visit forest camps on islands like Sajnekhali sanctuary, Jhinkali, Jharkali, Bali, and Dobanki. Sen added, as per a report by The Print, that the government was considering launching houseboat services within the next six months in large water bodies, much like in Kashmir.
In addition to this, the government had also vowed to lay over five crore mangroves in the Sunderbans, last year. This initiative seeks to repair the damage caused by cyclones Yass and Amphan. A report by News18 quotes Bengal’s Forest Minister Jyotipriya Mallick as saying, “Many trees were planted in the Sunderbans after cyclone Amphan. But those trees have been destroyed by Cyclone Yass. So this time more than five crore trees are being planted. Special attention will be given to the care of the trees.”
Besides this, the government has stated that over 18 tea gardens in the state have reopened and houses are being set up for the workers.
Feature and hero image: @souvikjr_adventures/Instagram