After a lull in April, tourists start returning to Darjeeling, Sikkim

After a lull in April, tourists start returning to Darjeeling, Sikkim

Siliguri: After a slump in tourism during the month of April, it is back on track again with a large number of tourists visiting Darjeeling and the neighbouring state of Sikkim. However, fewer tourists are visiting the Dooars area compared to the hills.

Currently, hotels and homestays have 90 per cent occupancy in Darjeeling. The tourist footfall in Sikkim is also huge following the Teesta disaster caused by flash floods in River Teesta on October 4, 2023. The flash floods had wreaked havoc taking a toll mainly on road connectivity.

“Very few tourists visited Sikkim in April this year as compared to last year. However, a large number of tourists are visiting Darjeeling this month. 90 per cent of occupancy is booked. We hope we will witness a tourist rush in the month of June also,” said Samrat Sanyal, the Secretary of Himalaya Hospitality and Tourism Development Network (HHTDN).

Every year, from April to June, a large number of tourists visit Darjeeling, Sikkim. However in April this year, hotels and homestays experienced around 50 to 60% occupancy. In some places, the percentage dipped to 45 per cent also.”

Tourism stakeholders blamed it on the Lok Sabha election. They also blamed excessive price hikes on flight fares. “Fewer flights are operating from Bagdogra Airport. The fare has increased. Many tourists are avoiding visiting this region owing to this also,” Sanyal added. North Sikkim has been heavily affected by the October flash flood. Owing to disruption in road connectivity and the closure of National Highway 10 frequently for repairs have further contributed to the dip in tourists.

Vehicles to Sikkim and Kalimpong to and fro Siliguri had been diverted through Lava and Gorubathan which is a longer route. Therefore, the vehicle fares also shot up. All these reasons added up to fewer tourists visiting Sikkim in April. However, this month onwards, with road connectivity restored and heat waves sweeping the plains, people have started visiting Sikkim. Almost 70 per cent occupancy has been recorded in different places in Sikkim, including Gangtok.

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