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11 Aug 2017

With Darjeeling badly hit, tourists look for alternate destinations

MP |  11 Aug 2017: With the ongoing impasse in the Hills, a cloud of uncertainty hovers over the future of the tourism industry, the economic mainstay of the region. Also alternate destinations are coming up like those in Dooars and in Bhutan as well. 
A renewed agitation for Gorkhaland since June which has taken the shape of an indefinite bandh has come down heavily on the tourism industry of this region. 
The bandh hit the 58 day mark on Friday. It was a bustling tourist season this year with a record number of footfall. 
However, with the unrest, sporadic bandhs and finally the indefinite strike, tourists had to be hurriedly evacuated from the hill town of Darjeeling. 
The packed-to-capacity tourist season that was to continue was cut short, ending by the first week of June. 
We feel that the adverse effect of the unrest will have a long term impact on the tourism industry of the region. It will take years to repair the damage. 
Everything seems so uncertain that we are not being able to answer to travel queries," stated Samrat Sanyal, director of a travel company. Subrata quizzed Sanyal said that there are queries about Sikkim for the Puja season but none for Darjeeling. "In North Bengal, we do not have large travel companies. 
There are ownership companies here. Owing to the unrest and the huge losses incurred, many such companies are planning to diversify and some are even planning to relocate. This in turn will have an adverse effect on employment," stated Sanyal. 
Other persons connected to the travel trade echoed similar sentiments. 
Many travel agents are promoting alternate destinations like Dooars. "We are promoting Bhutan too," added Sanyal. Every year, around 3 lakh domestic and 35,000 foreign tourists visit Darjeeling.

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