Political drama keeps Darjeeling off the travel plan this festive season

Political drama keeps Darjeeling off the travel plan this festive season

West Bengal Mamata Banerjee‘s three-day visit to North Bengal failed to reach a concrete solution to the threemonth-long political stalemate at Darjeeling, much to the disappointment of the tourism sector.
Banerjee’s visit and the allparty meeting at Siliguri was eagerly awaited to resolve theimpasse that has shut down the hills since June 8. While the chief minister has accepted some demands of the hill parties, she was not assured that the bandh would be withdrawn.Demanding an immediate tripartite meeting of the GJM, Centre and state government to discuss their demand of a sepa rate state, GJM president Bimal Gurung said: “I am not in favour of wthdrawing the bandh now.We will start a janta curfew soon.“

The ongoing political tussle spells doom for the tourism the tourism sector, especially ahead of the festive tourism window.

“According to estimates, with around 35,000 beds per night capacity, this region generates annual tourism volume of around Rs 350 crore. The festive season, which begins from September 15 after the threemonth-long mean monsoon period, contributes about 30% to the annual business here,“ said travel advisor Raj Basu.

“Large chunks of cancellations during June, immediately after onset of the bandh, shattered our summer business. Now, the festive business is also almost gone. Although we have had some enquiries for the Diwali period, we are unable to come up with a concrete answer to the tourists,“ said Samrat Sanyal, executive president of Eastern Himalaya Tour and Travel Operators Association said. Many camping and adventure trip organisers have also shifted their venue from Bengal to adjoining foothills in other places.

“Pushed to the brink, many of us may need to close down business,“ said Sanyal.