Over 70 per cent of hotel rooms in the tourist destinations of northern West Bengal are booked for the Durga Puja vacation, an official said on Saturday. The economy of the region, which boasts of some picturesque Himalayan destinations such as Darjeeling and Kalimpong, and forests of the Dooars, was battered by the pandemic as tourists stayed home amid the lockdowns.
As coronavirus cases subside, businesses are hopeful of an effervescent festive season with tickets of trains to New Jalpaiguri -- the gateway to the region, sold out and hotel rooms fast getting filled up. Federation of Bengal Hotels assistant secretary Ujjwal Ghosh said the region saw a good footfall during the summer holidays this years, and the hoteliers expect even a better festive season.
"Over 70 per cent of hotel rooms have already been booked in the Hills and in Dooars, and we expect the rest to be filled up soon," he said. The homestays are also witnessing a huge demand with most expected to be fully booked within the next few days, he added. The West Bengal government announcing a 10-day Durga Puja holiday for its employees coupled with 'revenge travelling' has prompted this massive demand, tourism industry insiders said.
The surge in 'revenge travel' as people make up for vacations lost during the pandemic has also pushed up hotel prices to twice-thrice the normal levels, they said. All the government accommodations in the region are nearly full between October 1 and 10 -- the Durga Puja vacations, officials said.
Niranjan Saha, the manager of West Bengal Tourism's Jaldapara Tourist Lodge, said all rooms of the property have been fully booked during the festive season. "We are now working on a special menu for the guests who will come during the festive season," he said.
To tackle the rush of tourists, the Eastern Railway has announced two special trains between Kolkata and New Jalpaiguri in Siliguri in October.
The bookings for these trains will begin on September 5. The Northeast Frontier Railway has also decided to operate four new toy train joy rides in Darjeeling during the festive season. The rides will run between Darjeeling and Ghum from October 1.