Darjeeling: With tourism having taken a major brunt owing to political unrest coupled with a 104-day-long bandh, the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) is all set to get tourism back on track with a tourist festival. The "Teesta Rangit Tourism Fest 2017" will be held in the Hills of Darjeeling and Kalimpong from December 27 to 31.
Though the GTA has preferred to remain tight-lipped on this issue, there are chances of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee inaugurating the festival. Talk doing the rounds is that West Bengal brand ambassador Shah Rukh Khan could also be attending the festival.
"We have invited the Chief Minister to visit the Hills during the festival. Now the ball is in her court," stated Binay Tamang, Chairman, Board of Administrators, GTA.
The festival will be held from December 27 to 29 in Darjeeling; 28 and 29 in Kurseong; 29 and 30 in Kalimpong and 30 and 31 in Mirik.
"Fire torch bearers from Darjeeling, Kurseong, Kalimpong and Mirik will run together from Jorebungalow, 8 km away from Darjeeling town to Darjeeling and light the ceremonial fire torch at the Darjeeling Chowrasta, during the inaugural ceremony on December 27. There will be two sports celebrities as well," added Tamang. Names of the two celebrities have not been disclosed.
The festival will also include an industrialist meet in a resort in Ghoom on December 28. "Darjeeling is known globally as a tourism destination and an educational hub. We want to incorporate industries as well. The foothill is highly viable for industries. We want to invite industries to the Hills. Industries can generate employment," stated Tamang.
A workshop on home stays will also be organised at Sitong in Kurseong.
"We have requested all stakeholders to cooperate to make this festival a grand success. We have requested the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway to slash their prices during the festival. Hotels and vehicles are to give discounts along with the Darjeeling Tea Association and Indian Tea Association providing tea packets for the tourists," stated Tamang.
The Hills will be lit up for the festival. "We have also asked the PWD, the National Highway and the Municipalities to repair the roads and also beautify them for the festival," Tamang said.
The Tourism department of the GTA will be the nodal department for the festival, backed by other departments of the GTA and the state government.
"From next year we will make this a calendar event so that tourists from all over the globe would know the fixed dates for the festival," added Tamang.