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Strife-free tour season hope

Posted by Ramesh Khati on September 5, 2009

Kalimpong, Sept. 4(Telegraph): The tourism sector has breathed a sigh of relief at the positive signals coming from the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha ahead of the season that commences in the middle of this month.

The tourism industry was a little apprehensive about the Morcha’s game plan vis-à-vis its next phase of agitation that it intends to announce on Sunday. However, with the party apparently allowing its affiliate organisation — All Transport Joint Action Committee — to pay taxes to the motor vehicles department in view of the approaching tourist season, hoteliers and tour operators feel the tourism will be kept outside the purview of the proposed agitation.

The relief of the sector is understandable given that the bookings for the season, especially for the two-week period between late September and early October, have been very good. This time, the season is expected to last till December.

“Ninety per cent of the rooms in places like Lava and Loleygaon (both in the Kalimpong subdivision) and the Dooars have already been booked,” said Samrat Sanyal, the general secretary of the Eastern Himalaya Travel and Tour Operators’ Association.

Sources in the Kalimpong Hotel and Restaurant Owners Association (Horak) have said they are looking forward to the season.

“The bookings at high-end hotels are very good, but the same cannot be said of budget hotels. If the political situation remains as it is now, then things will definitely look up,” said a Horak member.

However, unlike the high-end hotels where advanced bookings are the norm, the budget hotels generally get what in the industry parlance are called flying customers, meaning those who walk into the hotel and check in without prior booking.

“Most hotels in Kalimpong thrive on flying customers,” said the source. But the town is expected to lose some of the flying customers because of the condition of the roads.

The Border Roads Organisation (BRO), which maintains the road, has, however, promised to do all it can to repair the highway by early October. “We have faith in the BRO. They actually do a very good job of maintaining the road, given that they have to constantly battle against the vagaries of nature,” said Sanjogita Subba, the Horak president.

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