Kolkata: The West Bengal government for the first time has come up with special passes for tourists so that they can visit all Durga Puja pandals in and around the city. The state tourism department has issued the ‘Sharodotsav 2017 special guest passes’ for the Pujas and the Red Road carnival on October three, a tourism department official said today.
Each pass, depicting the face of Goddess Durga, will enable the holder to visit all pandals in Kolkata and neighbouring Salt Lake City and Howrah district, besides the October 3 carnival. The pass will be valid from September 23 to October 3.
“We want to publicise Durga Puja which is the biggest festival in the world. We want to show to the world what Durga Puja is all about. And it is probably also the biggest food festival in the world. So for the first time we have planned to showcase it,” the official said.
In fact, the tourism department has contacted all hotels, starting from top five-star facilities to budget hotels which are preferred by foreign tourists, he said. The consulates in the city have also been provided with these passes, he said.
Last year, the tourism department had tried to woo foreign tourists for Durga Puja carnival on Red Road but it got a poor response.
“This year we do not want to take any chances and hence the passes have been prepared. All the hotels in the city have been asked to provide the passes to their guests. Foreign guests have shown immense interest in it and we are getting calls from hotel authorities for more passes,” he said.
Budget and small hotels in south Kolkata’s Sudder Street have also been interested in the passes, he said.
“We are also getting requests from the consulates for more passes as they have a good number of guests visiting West Bengal at this time of the Durga Puja festival. We have adequate passes for them,” he said.
The state tourism department has also set up a counter at Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport to draw attention of visitors.
The tourism department is also planning to bank on the FIFA U-17 World Cup matches scheduled in the city.
“Team members and officials will start arriving on the city from this weekend and early next week. We are planning to tap them at the airport. We’ll distribute passes to the FIFA officials. That will earn us a huge mileage,” the official said.
“We are hopeful that this year it will be a success and in the coming years we’ll make it bigger. We hope for the best,” he said.