Kolkata: The West Bengal government under the Trinamool Congress is revamping at least 25 tourist lodges run by a state-owned corporation to turn them into three-star properties. This marks a significant shift from the affordability byword for tourist accommodation run by the erstwhile Left Front government to one of ensuring luxury.
The renovation will cost at least Rs100 crore and room tariff will be raised when these properties reopen in three months, according to Atri Bhattacharya, principal secretary in the department of tourism. The aim is to expand clientele, Bhattacharya said, adding that lodges run by the West Bengal Tourism Development Corp. should be able to attract tourists who stay at upscale private hotels.
The corporation owns 42 properties. Most of them recover the cost of operations, according to Goutam Deb, the minister for tourism in the state.
Over the next three months, 1,000 rooms in 25 of these properties are to be revamped at an average cost of ₹ 10 lakh each, according to the principal secretary. The funds are to come from budgetary allocation.
Bhattacharya, however, said that these properties will remain within the reach of the common man even as they move up the value chain.
The government also plans to impart training in skill development and capacity building to the 400 employees working at these properties while they are closed for renovation. For instance, chefs from these properties are to receive training at The Park hotel in Kolkata, according to Bhattacharya.
There is a proposal to bring in private companies for more efficient management of these properties, but a final policy decision is yet to be taken, according to Deb.
Some of the 42 properties are already under private management. The private partners have also been told to raise standards and meet the government’s expectations, Bhattacharya said.
The decision to upgrade 25 tourist lodges follows encouraging results from a pilot project undertaken with 66 rooms at Mainak, a property in Siliguri.
The tourism department is now eyeing 72 motels owned by the housing department. These, too, will be revamped and run by the tourism department, Deb said.