Welcome tourists, Dooars residents told
Tourism industry stakeholders in the eastern Dooars have launched a confidence-building campaign among people in and around tourist spots and resorts to try and ensure that local people do not make guests feel unwelcome amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“We need confidence-building measures. Tourism can’t start properly unless local people welcome guests,” said Alipurduar District Tourism Association (ADTA) vice-president Biswajit Saha.
Though the government allowed hotels to operate, ground realities differ.
Last week, a group of tourists from Calcutta who came to Darjeeling and checked into a hotel were made to leave by some local youths who feared the influx of tourists could lead to the spread of Covid-19.
After this, a club in Kalimpong wrote to hoteliers asking them not to let any person stay in their hotels “without the club’s consent and proper verification”.
No such problem has cropped up in the Dooars yet, but tourism stakeholders do not want to take chances before rolling out the red carpet for visitors. “That is why we held our first meeting in Chilapata on Monday,” said Saha.
At the meeting by the ADTA and the Chilapata Eco-Tourism Society, political leaders and doctors briefed the audience on preventive steps during the pandemic.
The meeting, stakeholders said, was essential as they needed to brief resort workers, drivers and others working in the micro levels of the tourism industry, as some are worried about their own safety. “A training session was held on health protocols in new normal to keep resorts, kitchens, vehicles or shops sanitised,” said Tapash Roy, a travel operator of Siliguri who attended the meeting.
“We can’t undermine the need for revival of the tourism industry, while simultaneously addressing the concerns of local residents,” added Saha.
Additional reporting by Vivek Chhetri from Darjeeling