13 Sep 2014
Siliguri, 12 September
In a bid to popularise home stay tourism in north Bengal, the tourism department will observe World Tourism Day with the theme ‘Community and Tourism ‘ on 27 September. The event is likely to be organised at Gajaldoba near Siliguri.
“The state government has laid emphasis on home stay tourism involving local people and creating a scope for them to earn livelihood. The idea is to provide tourists an opportunity to stay with local people and experience local customs and traditions and relish local cuisine,” said joint director of the tourism department, North Bengal, Sunil Agarwal.
“Since a mega tourism hub at Gajaldoba is coming up, there are some villages around that place that have been selected as the venue for the World Tourism Day programme,” he said.
“In the Hills, the tourism sites include Sibkhola, Gulma, Chimney, Pokhritar, Chitrey, Bagora, Lavdah and Takdah, and in the Dooars the areas are Panijhora, Mouchuki, Gonsaihat, Nimti, Jyanati and Magurmari. Discussions are underway with local people and we are hopeful that the home stay facilities would be started soon,” Mr Agarwal added.
Tourists will stay in extra rooms in local people’s houses.
According to him, the tourism department will re-arrange the rooms as per the requirements. While the house owners will take 80 % of the revenue, the tourism department will be getting the remaining 20. “The tourism department can also build cottages on vacant land,” Mr Agarwal said.
An official of the department said the traditional tourist spots have become congested and many tourists prefer to stay in offbeat places.
There are more than 550 private home stays in north Bengal, while there are two government ones at Chattakpur and Lamahatta.
Foundation stones have been laid for three more home stays (government) in the Hills. The home stay at Chattakpur is run by the forest department, while the Lamahatta home stay is run by the tourism department.