New Delhi, Feb 2: Tourism would be prioritised in the next plan and taken to new heights, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said inaugurating the 22nd Surajkund crafts mela in Haryana on Friday.
The crafts mela, an annual feature in the international tourism calender, has chosen West Bengal as its theme state this year. Appreciating Haryana's endeavour in promoting this venture to give the artisans a platform to highlight their talents, Mr Mukerjee said the crafts mela, being organised in the land of Kurekshetra, the centre of rennaissance which began in the 18th century and laid the path of emancipation in the country, brings great confidence to all.
Haryana had taken the initiative to give an opportunity to the craftsmen, whose talents were not recognised and were staying in the remote parts of the country, was a big thing, the External Affairs Minister said.
Appreciating the far sightedness of Haryana, Mr Mukherjee said it was the first state in the country to introduce Highway Tourism which was later followed by others.
''Tourism is not only money-oriented but free, frank, candid exchange of ideas, thoughts, moods which creates an impact to the Human intellect,'' Mr Mukherjee said.
Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Minister for state for Tourism, Forests, Environment, Sports and Youth Affairs Kiran Chaudhry and West Bengal's Minister of Micro small scale enterprises, Textiles and Tourism Department Manabendra Mukherjee were among others present at the inauguration.
Talking about the theme state for the mela this year, Mr Hooda said West Bengal had produced many poets and other great men.
Quoting in Hindi, ''jahan na pahunche ravi, wahan pahunche kavi'', the Chief Minister said a poet is a person, who can reach even to those hearts where Sun could not enter and Bengal had produced poets like Ravinder Nath Tagore and brave persons like Subash Chander bose.
''The mela is an amalgamation of different cultures, heritage, art and other things and now we are trying to make it an International amalgamation of different cultures,'' Mr Hooda said.
The crafts mela would continue till February 14 from 0930 hrs to 0830 hrs.
More than 350 artisans from all over the country as well as from SAARC countries and Brazil will be showcasing their products at the event.
Free entry to school students along with free Darjeeling tea for all is an added attraction this year. Events like Cultural festivals, folk songs, folk dances, cuisines of different states could be witnessed at the mela.
Painting competitions, kite making and kite flying, access to the dying arts like face mask making would be among other attractions at the mela.
Haryana tourism has arranged buses to the mela ground, which would ply from Haryana Emporium, ISBT, Sarai Kale Khan every day.