Darjeeling hotels to shut

Darjeeling hotels to shut
Hotels in Darjeeling have decided to close down from July 1 for an indefinite period saying it is not feasible to operate when hardly any tourist will visit the hills.

The Bengal government has said hotels could resume operations from June 8. But hoteliers in Darjeeling said the profile of their clients was different from that of the occupants in the plains and hence, they couldn’t keep their businesses open.

Sangay Tshering, the president of the Darjeeling Hotel Owners’ Association, said: “In the plains, hotels get corporate and other clients. In the hills, most of the visitors are those on vacation. We do not see the arrival of any tourists in the hills in the near future.”

The owners said keeping the hotels open would be untenable during the off season. “If we keep our hotels open, we have to keep the staff. With no income, we will be unable to pay them and this would create another problem,” said Tshering.

The peak tourism season in the hills extends from March till mid-Jun. “The next season starts in October-November. We have to keep our fingers crossed for the next season,” said Tshering.

The hills host nearly 4.5 lakh tourists annually and tourism is the backbone of the local economy.

The 380-odd hotels in the Darjeeling town employ approximately 10,000 people, said the association. From July, majority of them will remain unemployed.

The association said its members would pay the staff 35 per cent of the pay for April, May and June. “We had decided to pay 30 per cent of the salaries for April and May,” said Binod Khanna, the general secretary of the association.

Hotel workers’ union, however, approached the assistant labour commissioner (ALC)’s office recently on the issue of low payment. “We had recently held a meeting in the ALC’s office. The district administration also requested us to enhance the amount. Our association held a meeting today (Tuesday) and decided to pay 35 per cent of the salaries and that includes June also,” said Khanna.

Asked if the Rs 20 lakh crore package announced by the Centre had been of any help, both Sangay and Khanna replied in the negative. “We have not received any tangible support from financial institutions,” said Tshering.

The industry stakeholders had earlier written to Prime minister, Union tourism minister, Bengal chief minister and Gorkhaland Territorial Administration for support, but in vain.

https://www.telegraphindia.com

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Hotels in Darjeeling have decided to close down from July 1 for an indefinite period saying it is not feasible to operate when hardly any tourist will visit the hills.

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