Bengal tour operators remaining in lurch as travellers decide for direct bookings

    By Amitava Roy
    Kolkata, Dec 30 (PTI) The tourism sector of West
Bengal is witnessing a new trend of folks bypassing tour
operators to take a look at sought-after destinations in the northern
pieces of the state amid the COVID-19 pandemic, an workplace-
bearer of a vacation analysis organisation claimed on Wednesday.
    Tourists are right speaking to homeowners of lodges,
resorts and homestays in the Himalayas and Dooars in its place of
heading via tour operators, Raju Basu, the convenor of the
Affiliation for Conservation of Tourism, reported.
    This trend was witnessed right after a huge quantity of
people of Darjeeling and Kalimpong hills functioning in the
hospitality sector in other sections of the state returned residence
due to the pandemic scenario and started out endorsing village
tourism by opening their have homestays, he claimed.
    “They are uploading pictures and video clips of the
homestays in their villages on the social media and are
getting immediate bookings from site visitors,” Basu claimed.
    This has influenced the business enterprise of the journey agents as
they are hardly acquiring even 10 for each cent of the pie of the
vacationer footfall in the region, he stated.
    High-conclude elegance parlours and food stuff outlets have occur up
in off-beat places like Bungkulung in Darjeeling
district and Chuikhim in Kalimpong, also an rising trend, he
    “Persons with expertise of performing in the hospitality
sector in key cities are setting up these amenities. They
are obtaining very good enterprise equally from travelers as nicely as
locals,” Basu advised PTI.
    The COVID-19 pandemic has assisted to integrate city
and rural places in the village tourism and company field.
    “Now, travelers from the metropolitan areas will not skip their
urban luxuries in the mountains or forests,” he said.
    Cuisines ranging from Hyderabadi biryani to Korean
dishes are now available in the hills, thanks to the
returnees, he mentioned.
    Hotels and homestays, which had been crippled by the
coronavirus-induced lockdown beginning in March, are now totally
booked till soon after the New Yr, with vacationers flocking even to
distant locations.
    Kharga Singh, the proprietor of a homestay in Pabong
village in Kalimpong, said all his 5 cottages are booked
until the 1st 7 days of January.
    “We sat idle for many months and had bought some
small business during the Durga Puja and Diwali year but now
visitors are coming in excellent figures in the Christmas to New
Year time period,” he mentioned.
    Hotels in Darjeeling town, popularly regarded as the
Queen of the Hills, have documented 80-90 for each cent occupancy
rates related to pre-COVID moments.
    Much to the delight of vacationers, pleasure rides on the
famed toy trains of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) have
resumed from Xmas.
    Travel Agents’ Federation of India (TAFI) eastern
location head Anil Punjabi mentioned that the travellers are
them selves scheduling homestays and resorts in north Bengal.
    “This is fraught with risk as the travelers are not able to drop
again on any one if anything goes mistaken,” he mentioned.
    He claimed that photographs and films of homestays may possibly not
match the actual problems in some conditions and vacationers will have
minor redress of their grievances.
    If the tour is booked by way of a journey agent or tour
operator, the traveller can lodge issues with the businesses
in these types of scenarios. PTI AMR BDC