"As per rough estimation, business loss is going to be worth over Rs 150 crore this festive season," said Mr. Tapas Roy, Secretary Eastern Himalayan Tour and Travel operators association.
Around 45% of the domestic tourists visit Darjeeling during festive season from end August to Mid November while 35% arrive in pre monsoon slot from March to June. These generate almost 80% of around Rs 400 crore worth annual tourism business of the region. With around 6,500 hotel rooms, Darjeeling receives around 5 lakh domestic tourists and 50,000 foreign visitors per year- explained Mr. R Basu, veteran travel advisor and tour operator.
According to him, over 80% of our Darjeeling sector booking for festive season has already been cancelled. Domestic tourists are shifting from Darjeeling region to Himachal Pradesh, Kashmir or even Garhwal.
Forest based tourism destinations in Dooars region in West Bengal foothills adjoining to Darjeeling are somehow showing positive trend. But with just 1/10 thholding capacity of Darjeeling, Dooars cannot compensate this loss. Moreover, foothill region is also getting disturbed that is evident from the bomb blast on Thursday morning taking life of a policeman.
"The long term ill effects are rather more serious. UK or USA have already issued refreshed travel alert advising all their citizens to avoid traveling in Darjeeling region. These are creating serious impact," said Mr. S Sanyal, Director of a major tour operating house.
In addition, "All our overseas business partners design, promote and market their packages well in advance. Following this last moment hazards here, we are facing lot of trouble in arranging proper alternatives for their guests. As the aftermath, these foreign operators are now designing their next year's packages without Darjeeling sector to avoid these hassles," said Mr. Sanyal.
A hotelier from Darjeeling Mr. Partha Roy however said, "It may not go completely blank during the festival. We are still hopeful. Time is there."
Source : economictimes