regular-article-logo Saturday, 23 September 2023

Hill tourism on a festive peak

Insiders confident that inflow of tourists would be steady during the Diwali and Chhath Puja holidays

Binita Paul Siliguri Published 24.10.22, 12:24 AM
Chowrasta, a hotspot for tourists in Darjeeling.

Chowrasta, a hotspot for tourists in Darjeeling. File picture

The trend of bookings in hotels, resorts and homestays across the hills, and reservations to rides in the toy train of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) have kept stakeholders of tourism industry smiling.

Tourism insiders said there were clear indications that inflow of tourists would be steady during the Diwali and Chhath Puja holidays.


They said that almost 90 per cent of the accommodations in homestays, which have mushroomed in different villages across the hills, both in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts, over the past few years, are booked till Diwali.

“Like in Durga Puja, we are expecting a good number of tourists during Diwali and Chhath Puja holidays. Along with hotels and resorts, most homestays are booked, even in remote locations. It is evident that after two years of the Covid-19 pandemic that kept many indoors, people are in a mood to travel. Even bookings for winter holidays have started,” said Debasish Chakraborty of Siliguri, who has been promoting homestay accommodations for years now.

In most famous hotels of Darjeeling hills, around 70 per cent of the rooms are booked from October to December, said sources. But homestays appear to be doing better.

“Even in 2019, homestays were not so popular. But after the pandemic, people prefer to stay in isolated places instead of crowded ones. That is why bookings are so high in these accommodations,” said Raj Basu, a veteran in the tourism industry of this region.

During Diwali, along with prominent spots like Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong, tourists will visit Sonada, Chatakpur, Mirik, Sitong, Lava and Loleygaon, the bookings show.

“Lesser-known homestays in tea estates and orange groves in surrounding areas of Mirik are also booked,” said a tour operator.

Arvind Kumar Mishra, the director of the DHR, said there is a huge response from tourists for rides this season.

“During Diwali holidays, tourists visiting the hills want to enjoy toy train rides. Bookings are quite high for the joy rides,” he said.

The DHR conducts 12 daily joy rides from Darjeeling station. It is a return trip from Ghoom, covering the Batasia loop. For tourists, this is the most popular ride in the DHR.

“Our tourism industry had taken a beating amid the pandemic. People suffered huge losses. More tourists can act as a fillip for the industry,” said Samrat Sanyal, general secretary, Himalayan Hospitality and Tourism Development Network.

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