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Rush-season rules for Darjeeling hotels

Darjeeling, Nov. 17: Tourists take heart. The chaos that greets visitors on arrival at the hill station in the form of touts offering hotel packages could soon be a thing of the past.

The Darjeeling district administration plans to unveil a bouquet of measures, including regulation of the tariff structures of non-star hotels and vehicles plying in the hills, to ensure that unsuspecting tourists are not fleeced during the peak seasons — March to May and September to November.

The new rules are likely to be introduced by the start of the next tourist season, beginning March, said Darjeeling district magistrate Hridesh Mohan.

“The graded hotels have standard rates and they will not be allowed to change the tariffs at their whims and fancies. Talks have already been held with the hotel association representatives from Darjeeling. We will soon hold discussions with their Siliguri counterparts,” Mohan added.

The Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Hotel Owners’ Association said it was “amenable” to the moves.

“We have no objection to this. We have learnt that the authorities plan to make display of tariff cards in hotels compulsory so that touts cannot dupe tourists. Our association has been following this all along. But there are many hotels here that charge Rs 300 during peak season and let out the same rooms for a measly Rs 90 during off season,” said Vijay Khanna, general secretary, Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Hotel Owners’ Association.

Khanna added that the association would ask for a “fixed discount” for the lean season.

“We don’t want to let out the rooms at very low rates but we should be allowed to offer a discount of up to 50 per cent during off-seasons,” he said.

Besides the regulation of hotel tariffs, the administration is planning some more tourist-friendly measures.

“All vehicles will be made to display fare charts. We are identifying certain vantage points, like the toy train stations, where we will put up electronic boards to display the charts. Special raids will be conducted to ensure that the passengers are not fleeced,” the district magistrate said.

“A drive is now on against errant drivers and offenders are being made to pay up to Rs 2,000 as penalty,” he added.

Plans are also afoot to impose a load restriction on vehicles that use the landslide-prone Hill Cart Road or NH 55.

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