Peace is back in Darjeeling, so are the tourists this Christmas
Darjeeling: There is reason enough to cheer for Darjeeling this Christmas. With the ushering in of the festive season, tourists have started trickling back to the Hills.
After being under the grip of an agitation for a separate state of Gorkhaland that included a 104-day long bandh since June this year, the region is slowly limping back to normalcy. Though the bandh was lifted on September 26, tourists have been staying away from the Darjeeling Hills.
Despite Dooars witnessing a tourist onrush, the Hills remained barren during the Durga Puja season. However, since last week of December, tourists have started returning.
"Every year from Christmas to New Year we have tourists. This year too the tourists are here. However, majority of the tourists are from outside Bengal. We have tourists from Maharashtra, Delhi, Gujarat and Orissa. The season will continue till first week of January," stated Pradeep Lama, Secretary, Darjeeling Association of Travel Agents.
Every year around 3 lakh domestic tourists and around 25,000 foreign tourists visit the Hills. Though the summer tourist season witnessed a major rush, since June there have been hardly any tourists in the Hill town. Incidentally, tourism is the mainstay of the Hill economy.
"There is an interesting trend. Darjeeling is slowly becoming a weekend destination for the people of North Bengal. Tourists are also visiting without any prior planning and bookings which is a pointer to the fact that the confidence level regarding the Hills is steadily returning," stated Samrat Sanyal, a tour operator.
Since December 22, there has been a steady flow of tourists and the number of queries regarding Darjeeling has also gone up, added Sanyal.
The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration backed by the state government has also lined up the Teesta Rangit Tourism Fest 2017 from December 27 till December 31. It will be held in Darjeeling, Kurseong, Mirik and Kalimpong.