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Darjeeling Fest '19 kicks off with grand parade, tourism boost in sight

Darjeeling: Darjeeling heralded in the 8 day-long Darjeeling Fest 2019 with a grand parade on Friday. Aimed at promoting tourism, talks are on to make this a calendar event.

Organised by the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), the fest will continue till September 27. The festival will be held at different venues in Darjeeling.

"The fest is being organised to give a boost to tourism, which is the economic mainstay of this region. We have to promote tourism. The last few years have witnessed a boost in tourism at Darjeeling. We hope that the trend will continue this year as well. India has been chosen as the host country by the United Nations to commemorate World Tourism Day, the day on which the fest will culminate," stated Surendra Gupta, principal secretary, GTA.

The parade which saw participation from Land Rovers, Chowrasta ponies, motorbikes, the Darjeeling police band, people dressed in traditional outfits and school students, started from the Darjeeling Motor Stand and ended at Chowrasta.

The fest was flagged off by GTA chairman Anit Thapa. "The fest will be organised annually. The GTA chairman has spoken to the state government for the fest to be declared as a calendar event. Every year, there could be a change in venue. We could organise the fest in Kalimpong, Kurseong and in other localities in the Hills," stated Binay Tamang, former chairman of the GTA.

The fest will host flower shows, pet shows, fashion shows, football, taekwondo, photography, art, bodybuilding, archery, bike rallies and cultural shows. Traditional sports like 'Chungi' will also find a place in the fest.

"Along with these we will have some showstoppers. 'Tiger', the dog who had saved his owner from a leopard attack, will be given a bravery award. An 85-year-old man from England, who has been driving a Land Rover since 1951 and is on a world tour, will also be felicitated on World Tourism Day," added Tamang.

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