Sunday, November 28

Digha, Darjeeling set to welcome back tourists

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Two of Bengalis’ favourite tourist destinations—Digha and Darjeeling —are set to reopen from July 1.

While the government has given the nod to open beaches and allow bathing in the sea, across Digha-Shankarpur-Tajpur and Mandarmoni, certain restirctions will be in place to minimize the risk of the spread of the novel coronavirus. Not more than 50% rooms of a hotel will be allowed to be booked together, sanitization of rooms will be compulsory, tourists and hotel employees will have to undergo thermal screening before entry and will have to sanitize their hands, food will be served only in rooms and tourist vehicles will have to be sanitized. Swimming in the sea will be allowed, but no picnic can be held on the beach. In the Hills, where some hotels had opened last month, they soon shut down. Tourist spots under the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration will now see phased reopening.

Digha-Shankarpur Development Board on Friday gave the green signal to open all hotels. “Everyone has agreed to comply with rules across the area. We hope even tourists will cooperate,” said Biprodas Chatterjee, joint secretary, Digha Hoteliers’ Association. The coastal area witnessed trouble earlier in June, when some tourists was allegedly driven out of a hotel in Mandarmoni and a protest was later staged against tourism in Digha during Covid times.

Sujan Dutta, administrator of the Digha-Shankarpur Development Board, said a five-member committee would monitor if the hotels followed rules. “The panel can ask for action against rule violators,” he said. Several hoteliers said they would weigh all concerns, including sanitization cost, before taking bookings. “We are working out the economics,” said Shankar Sarkar, a Mandarmoni hotel manager.

The tourism department is set to open all spots under GTA in phases from July 1, following the state’s unlock directives. A helpline desk, run by Darjeeling Police, is operational at every entry point to the Hills and tourists can seek help there. Following a meeting among tourism stakeholders at the GTA secretariat in Darjeeling, concrete steps are set to be announced. “The department will take all initiatives to revive tourism in the Hills. Hotels will reopen, following government SOP,” an official said.

The reopening news elicited a mixed reaction from Kolkatans. While some advocated for the need for a break and boost for economy, others argued about health hazards. Several seemed to prefer day trips to Digha. “We have waited for so long. At least now we can go on a trip,” said Sayantan Chatterjee, a member of a travel group.

Source:Times of India

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