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Unrest threatens winter tourism in Darjeeling

Unrest threatens winter tourism in Darjeeling
Entangled within newly brewing up political equations between the Centre, state and local political forces, Darjeeling hills is skeptical on its winter season tourism business.

“We are uncertain about winter season business in Darjeeling hills though the demand trend was highly favourable before the onset of the disturbances,” said tour operators.

According to Samrat Sanyal, president, Eastern Himalayan Travel and Tour Operators Association, winter season contributes a major chunk of Darjeeling’s Rs 350 crore worth average annual tourism business as it brings in many premium class adventurers and other special interest tourist groups.

“It will be difficult serving these groups in the imminent chaos in case those pop up. We may have to cancel or divert these bookings while absorbing heavy losses,” he said.

The situation has emerged out of the recent political developments. After over 100 days long bandh in the hilly region, though the situation has started taking an apparent normal shape, the political fire is still burning with high potential to erupt anytime destabilising entire scenario again.

The Trinamool Congress, which is the ruling party in the state, has launched a manhunt for Bimal Gurung who is absconding.

On the other side, the BJP, which is an ally of the GJM, is trying to encash pro-GJM sentiment by opposing TMC’s stance. The hill political forces, despite their common demand of separate statehood, started breathing fire against each others to justify their individual interests.

“All these may once again flare up the unrest. Especially, if government arrests Gurung without giving him avenues to surface and surrender,” a senior security official said.

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom, the largest contributor to Darjeeling’s winter time inbound tourists, is still continuing with caution for British citizens on travelling in Darjeeling region. On the other side, “We are also keeping a close watch on the situation. Hope things will get back to normalcy soon,” said US consul general Craig Hall.

At ground level, tourism arena is keeping its fingers crossed. While many of the operatives are focusing on Bhutan as alternative, many others are concentrating on outbound operations. 

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com

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