West Bengal tourism industry is witnessing a revival in activities and business since the festival season.
The Covid-19 crisis has hammered the tourism industry severely across the world and West Bengal, the eastern state of India too is nothing different. The majority of the state’s highly popular tourist destinations have seen a drought due to the pandemic. However, the improving Covid situation and the commencement of vaccination drive in the state have helped in improvement for the tourism industry, at least to some extent.
The West Bengal tourism industry is hopeful that this upward revival momentum will continue through the year.
Darjeeling and Kalimpong, two districts in the northern part of the state and the two most popular tourist destinations as well. In these two districts, thousands of people linked to the tourism industry have lost their jobs in the last several months. However, the business resumed and started reviving gradually in the Darjeeling hills since the last festive season. In January 2021 too as well, tourists started flocking there to get a clear view of the snow-clad Himalayan mountains and also to break the year-long monotony of staying at home.
However, the stakeholders of the tourism industry are not being able to guide the tourists or prospective visitors as the authorities have not decided to allow the hotels to resume operations completely. The tourism industry stakeholders there are keen to restart business completely by the coming Durga Puja and Diwali season in 2021.
The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), an autonomous district council, had banned the entry of outsiders in Darjeeling and Kalimpong to combat the spread of Coronavirus last year. However, the ban was lifted before the festive season.
At least one member from almost every family in Darjeeling hills is associated with the tourism industry.
According to the tourism industry officials, at least one member from almost every family in Darjeeling hills is associated with the tourism industry. Several thousands of hotels, homestays, and people involved in the transport sector rely on the tourism industry that was severely impacted by the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the adjacent Dooars region has witnessed the reopening of homestays, resorts, and hotels. Several destinations in the forested and tea garden surrounded Dooars have reopened a few months back and tourists from West Bengal and neighbouring states too have started visiting those areas.
In the Southern part as well, regions like Shantiniketan, Purulia are witnessing, various beaches of the state are also witnessing a revival in business as tourists are coming back to these places since the last festive season. Several resorts, hotels in locations like Ayodhya hills and Baranti in the Purulia district, have been witnessing a surge in the number of bookings in January and February. With the Holi nearing in late March, the region is expecting a spike in the number of bookings. Several resorts and hotels have reported about the non-availability of rooms that are forcing them to deny booking for prospective visitors.
According to Nandini Chakraborty, Principal Secretary, West Bengal Government, domestic tourism will continue to stay, leading the rediscovery of the new facets of India and the intangible heritage of the country. While inaugurating the Travel and Tourism Fair organised after 2019, where at least 15 states and more than 140 private exhibitors have participated, Chakraborty also said that the rich heritage of the country can be the focus and help the travel industry to grow multifold.
West Bengal Tourism Department has opened all of its 34 properties across the state.
While the foreign tourist arrival may have to wait for some time as the international flights are yet to resume operation fully, the domestic travel sector has filled the void and helping in the revival of the tourism industry.
West Bengal Tourism Department has opened all of its 34 properties located in different parts of the state from the Darjeeling Hills in the north to the seaside town Digha in the south. The tourism industry is also hopeful that despite an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in some states across the country, the domestic tourism sector is likely to remain upbeat.