With a new dynamic tourism minister at the helm of affairs, West Bengal tourism is planning a big leap forward. The new tourism minister, Krishnendu Narayan Choudhury, on Thursday launched a major campaign in Delhi setting a tone that he means serious business. In an exclusive interview with the Millennium Post, he has described many of his new plans for the future. Read on…It is commonly perceived that West Bengal is lagging behind in promoting tourism? Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’It is a fact that our state earlier had not given enough importance to tourism but after the new government took over under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee, we have given a very special focus to tourism. We have the Sunderbans, Darjeeling, Deegha but enough initiative was not taken to promote such destinations. After I took over, I am focusing on improving the existing infrastructure so that we can offer better facilities to the tourists. We are trying to do tie-ups with the industries as a whole like travel-agents, tour operators, other state governments, foreign governments and private players. Our budget allocation for tourism has also increased to Rs. 120 crores which is a big leap. We are also tied-up with Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd to provide helicopter service facilities to different parts of Bengal particularly with tourist destinations like Sunderbans, the hills and Deegha. We are also trying to create new infrastructure for some tourist destinations like Gajaldoba which is near Bagdogra Airport and Jharkhali in Sunderban. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixWhat other infrastructure developments are you planning?Through public-private partnership, we are planning to create road-side facilities for the travellers like restrooms, canteens etc. With our existing 27 tourist lodges (out of which 11 have been leased out to private companies), we are planning to improve the quality and services by professionalized management and training. Our motto is to treat every tourist as an important guest of the state. We are focusing on both, high-end as well as the budget travellers. How about foreign travelers? At present, an average of 3000 foreign travellers come to West Bengal and our position is 6th in all India basis but we are planning to increase it to 10,000 within next three years. A lot of big hotel chains are showing interest to set up more hotels in our state for which our government is going to extend all assistance.But what about the disturbances in the hills, Darjeeling area due to agitation?After our government took over, highest number of tourists arrived in the hills after a long gap and our CM is doing everything for the development of the hills. The livelihood of the local people is totally linked with tourism and we are hopeful that peace will remain there and more tourists will visit the hills.