Hills see promising tourist inflow post elections
Darjeeling: Despite the tourist season kicking off late in the region owing to the general elections, tourist inflow has been very promising post elections. However, a need has been felt for better infrastructure to handle the growing number of tourists.
"Most of the hotels, especially in the Hills, have been sold out till June 20. It is a very positive indication that even in June rooms are sold out," stated Samrat Sanyal, general secretary, Himalayan Hospitality and Tourism Development Network.
However, Sanyal expressed apprehension over the stretching of infrastructure that has resulted from the tourist boom. "Things like traffic jams, parking problems and water woes in the Hills have to be looked into before the next tourist season in October. All arrangements have to be made well in advance," he added.
Incidentally, representatives of the travel and tourism industry have recently met state Tourism minister Goutam Deb to discuss these issues.
"There has been a heavy tourist inflow. We have requested private buses and taxis to stop overcharging. At present there are 4 government buses running from Siliguri to Darjeeling and back, along with 2 buses from Siliguri to Kalimpong and back. We have made arrangements to increase the number of government buses from June 15. An additional Tourism department bus will ply between Siliguri and Darjeeling from June 17," stated the Tourism minister.
From June 15, 7 buses of the North Bengal State Transport Corporation will ply between Siliguri and Darjeeling, with another 5 buses from Siliguri to Kalimpong.
The minister asked police and the Regional Traffic Officer to remain vigilant. "No tourist should be harassed," he added.
Deb also appealed to the police to address public grievances. "During Durga Puja there is a huge rush in the Hills and Dooars from Mahalaya to Bhai Phota. We have to have a tourist-friendly system in place by September," he said.
It may be mentioned that every year more than seven lakh domestic tourists visit the region, while the foreign tourist footfall remains around 30,000.