Kolkata, 1 August The ripple effect of the unrest in the Hills can be felt in the state with a number of tour operators spending sleepless nights as their livelihood depends on the Queen of Hills.
The announcement of indefinite strike by Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM) has caused panic among the operators who say, they might have to incur huge losses if tours in Darjeeling do not materialise during the festive season starting from the end of September.
“We have already started doing bulk bookings and arrangements for accommodation and food facilities for the tourists. Our businesses will be ruined if the tours get cancelled,” said a tour operator on condition of anonymity.
Many, however, sounded optimistic and said that the matter would be resolved with the intervention of the chief minister. “We have two group tours scheduled for Darjeeling in September and October and have made arrangements for the tourists. The chief minister will definitely take appropriate steps to solve the deadlock and help us to run our business smoothly,” said Mr Mridul Banerjee, partner in Banerjee special, one of the premier tour operators in the city. He, however, accepted the call for indefinite strike will force prospective tourists to give a re-think to their travel plans and choose other viable destinations, which are comparatively safer from political rumblings and nature’s fury.
Many others said that people are showing interest in visiting Rajasthan, Kerala and Goa favourite destinations among all season tourists.
“The tour bookings to these states have shot up, especially after catastrophe in Uttarakhand,” said, Mr Ashis Biswas, senior manager of Kundu Special, another pioneer tour operators.
The small operators who completely depend on Darjeeling for their trade rued, they would be the worst-hit as shutdown in Hills will result in closure of their shops in the city.