Stakeholders of the tourism industry in north Bengal and Nepal have decided to promote both regions as an integrated tourism circuit.
The decision was made at the Third Indo-Nepal Friendship Meet that was organised by the Nepal consulate-general's office in Calcutta and the Association for Conservation & Tourism (ACT) in Mirik. The meet ended on Friday.
"As the landscape is contiguous, we want the tourism sector both in north Bengal and eastern Nepal to flourish. A joint effort to promote the region as an integrated circuit can help in this growth," said Raj Basu, a representative of ACT.
At the meet, it was decided that a team of stakeholders, comprising people from both sides of the border, will approach their respective governments for improvement of roads, promotion of homestay accommodation in Nepal and publicity campaign by various departments, agencies and boards.
According to Indian media, those present at the meet also decided that a joint campaign of the tourist destinations in north Bengal and Nepal will be launched in Calcutta in December.
"It is the nearest metro that generates a huge number of tourists every year. There will be a Himalayan Orange Tourism Festival in Calcutta in December, where the destinations on both sides of the border will be highlighted," said Samrat Sanyal, a veteran in travel trade who attended the meet.
"Also, a meeting will be held to involve other neighbouring countries in a joint drive to promote destinations located in these countries. The idea is to offer a larger canvas to tourists so that they can have more choices and simultaneously help in economic empowerment of stakeholders, particularly in rural areas," he added.
For a few years, people associated with tourism in north Bengal and adjoining areas in Nepal have been pressing for a combined tourist circuit.
"We could move forward a few steps through these meetings. Along with the campaign plan for new destinations, we also intend to focus on conservation of nature and wildlife. In this region, it is necessary to work for conservation of the elephant, red panda and the salamander. There should be an elephant sanctuary in eastern Nepal," said Basu of ACT.
He pointed out that Khangchendzonga National Park in Sikkim had been recognised as a world heritage site by Unesco. "It is necessary to increase the scope of the site to contiguous areas in eastern Nepal and the Himalayan tracts of Bengal," he added.