Balm for tourism industry: Puja bookings witness spike

Balm for tourism industry: Puja bookings witness spike

kolkata: At a time when the tourism industry had been reeling due to the pandemic, there's some relief for the operators during the festive season as bookings for Durga Puja have surged beyond expectations, tour operators said.

According to industry sources, bookings for trips during Durga Puja are in full swing amid fears of a possible third wave of the pandemic.

"Many people are mixing travel with family get-togethers at exotic locations, having missed out on meeting each other for a long time owing to the restrictions," Anil Punjabi, the eastern region chairman of the Travel Agents Federation of India, said.

"This time, the response and bookings are much more than our expectations. We are getting a very good response. If you compare it with pre-COVID times, for example, 2019, the revival is around 60 per cent. We hope it will grow further in days to come," he added.

Raj Basu, convenor of the Association for Conservation of Tourism, said keeping in mind COVID-19 safety norms, many travellers this time are more interested in quieter destinations.

"People are preferring to stay at one place for at least three to four days instead of hopping in and out of several tourist attractions," he said.

Basu said the tourist response to four districts of north Bengal - Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri is "extraordinary" for the festival season.

"Most village tourism destinations like Sittong, Tagdah, Tinchuley, Pedong are totally booked for the Durga Puja, and bookings have also started for Diwali and Christmas holidays," he said.

Basu said if the trend continues, the tourism industry would be assured of a turnaround from the lull it faced since March 2020, when the nationwide lockdown was announced.

As the village destinations are getting priority among the travellers for health safety reasons, there is now a crisis of homestays and resorts in these places, he said.

With Northeastern states such as Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim also opening up, tourists from far-off states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Karnataka are showing interest in travelling to these places, Basu said.

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