With the 16th Lok Sabha election nearing its end, tourists have steadily begun making their way up to the hills notwithstanding the monsoon that is yet to start in earnest.
The flow of inquires from prospective visitor groups from places across the country have given a reason for the tour and travel operators and hoteliers to look forward to this season, which to an extent, has been hampered by the election.
Some budget and even high-end hotels in town are getting positive bookings for the upcoming season.
“The election has definitely held back the flow of tourists to the hills. Despite this fact, we have started receiving numerous enquiries on the status of our rooms from several prospective visitor groups,” informed Diwesh Sarki, who is engaged in the operations department of a reputed hotel in town.
Similarly, hotels under two- and three-star categories are also looking forward to the months of May and June to welcome significant tourist numbers.
“Our clients come from various places and states where the election is still ongoing, but they have started booking rooms. People from place where voting is already over have even started arriving,” according to Rajesh Rajak, general manager of a top-end hotel located in a posh area of Darjeeling town.
For travel and tour operators busy planning itineraries for prospective clients, the flow of tourist has been on the rise this month.
“We deal with foreign clients but we are also open to domestic groups. Since the present trend is to make a circular trip of Darjeeling, Sikkim and the Dooars, we have started preparing the best possible trips and routes for our clients,” said Umesh Gurung, who runs a travel and tour agency.
On the other hand, some tour operators are apprehensive about how satisfactorily the world-famous Darjeeling Himalayan Railway would provide its services.
“Our clientele base normally comprises foreign groups. They specifically demand a ride in the DHR toy train. But of late, the DHR service has become questionable and we are already suffering because of this. We only hope that DHR officials will take proactive steps to ensure hassle-free services,” said a leading tour operator not wishing to be named.
With the visitor pace picking up, tourists hotspots too are gearing up to meet their guests. The passenger ropeway at Singamari has already started ferrying tourists as have places such as the Japanese temple, the Batasay War Memorial and Chowrastha, the popular promenade in town.
Kalimpong sub-division too is getting its fair share of tourists, who are all too eager to visit places such as places like Lava, Loley Gaon, Delo and Relli.