India Business
Kolkata Port Trust plans river tourism
Mar 15, 2007 - 10:48:00 AM

Kolkata, March 15 - Imagine boarding a luxurious vessel to cruise along the Ganges, sipping your mocktail as you float towards a tourist destination that you always reached through air or rail.

Sounds exotic? It might become a reality soon for tourists arriving in West Bengal. The Kolkata Port Trust - is gearing up to promote river tourism, using the waterways that connect the City of Joy with many destinations along the Ganges, called the Hooghly in Kolkata.

'We have decided to kick off river tourism and coastal tourism from Kolkata Port. In coastal tourism, several tourist destinations like the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Puri in Orissa and the Sagar Islands of Sundarbans will be connected with Kolkata through the waterways,' KoPT chairman A.K. Chanda told IANS.

Chanda said KoPT also has plans to introduce luxury boats for tourists from Kolkata to West Bengal districts like Murshidabad, Malda and Nadia.

All these three districts are of rich historical significance and have emerged as tourism hotspots for people coming from different parts of the world. These districts are also connected by the same national waterways - the Ganges.

Kolkata port is the only port in India that is connected through river. All other ports in the country are seaports.

'We have started rejuvenating canals which are linked with the Ganges. KoPT has also allotted land to a private company, Vivada Inland Transport Ltd., near the Millennium Park to run a cruise service from Kolkata to Sundarbans - a global heritage that has developed as a perfect place for ecotourism,' he revealed.

Chanda added that an air-conditioned vessel, Paramhansa, was now ready to start its journey with the accommodation of 100 people.

A.K. Mukherjee, a KoPT official, said the state government had constituted a committee headed by the KoPT chairman. There are other representatives from the tourism department of West Bengal, Orissa and Andaman. This committee is solely working on encouraging coastal tourism from Kolkata.

'We are looking for global partners to join in this venture. Talks are on with Singapore-based Star Cruise and Viking River Cruise of the US. We want them to run international standard vessels on the Ganges, connecting several important tourist destinations,' said Mukherjee.

The KoPT has also given permission to a private river transport company, East India Navigation, to operate their vessels from Outram ghat jetty No.1 in Kolkata for local sightseeing.

'We welcome the members of the UK delegation that came to Kolkata for developing maritime facilities though they are not experts in river tourism. Another British delegation will come shortly to explore investment opportunities in coastal tourism here,' Chanda said.

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