Tourism day splash to get back to business
The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) and tourism stakeholders have lined up an array of events in the hills and in plains for World Tourism Day on September 27.
The events, which include car and bike rallies, seminars, award functions, panel discussions and visits to popular tourist destinations, are being seen as a bid to build the confidence of people in prominent tourist spots to ensure seamless movement of tourists across north Bengal from October.
After Covid-19 cases were reported from different locations of the hills and foothills, some residents had expressed apprehension that tourists might cause a spike in Covid cases.
“Now that the hills and the plains are ready to welcome the tourists again, it is necessary that local residents are taken into confidence. The tourism industry has taken a beating in the past few months and it is time that initiatives are taken to revive the sector that provides jobs to over five lakh people,” said Samrat Sanyal, general, secretary, Himalayan Hospitality & Tourism Development Network (HHTDN).
According to the stakeholders, the pandemic and consequent lockdown led the sector to lose around Rs 21 crore a day since mid-March.
“It is over six months now and the total loss would be over Rs 3,000 crore,” added Sanyal.
In such a situation, GTA authorities, who have time and again stressed resumption of tourism activities in the hills, plan to celebrate this World Tourism Day differently.
A Land Rover and mountain bike rally, a 5km run and a seminar would be held, all while adhering to the prescribed protocols to check the spread of the pandemic.
Suraj Sharma, assistant director of tourism in GTA, GTA, said the events would be organised on a small scale. There would be only 20 Land Rovers, around 50 mountain bikers and similar number of runners. The attendance at the seminar would be around 50.
“Those in Land Rover, mountain bike rallies, and runners will maintain distance at all times. The seminar will be held at Chowrasta with limited participants,” said Sharma.
The seminar will revolve around educating hotel and homestay owners on norms to be adhered when hosting tourists.
In the plains, the HHTDN will host an award function to recognise people associated with the industry and working in sectors such as homestays, transport, hospitality and tourism promotion. “We will also have a panel discussion on tourism,” said a member.
The Eastern Himalaya Travel & Tour Operators’ Association is hosting “Naya Sabera (new dawn)”, at Lataguri on the fringes of Gorumara National Park, the most popular tourist destination in the Dooars.
“There will be panel discussions, felicitation of people and cultural functions. We also want to tell tourists that the region is ready to welcome them,” said Debasish Maitra, the association’s president.