Darjeeling is a popular tourist destination with its lush tea gardens and scenic beauty. However, since the last few months due to the lockdown, the tourism business has seen no sign of recovery.
Last week on Sunday, the ‘Hotel Owners Association’ decided to shut down more than 300 hotels indefinitely from July 1. This association decided to close down all the 330 hotels in Darjeeling until further notice. This decision worried more than 10,000 people who were at the risk of becoming jobless.
During the last few months, there have been no tourists due to the COVID pandemic which made the hotel business owners incur losses as they have to pay the salaries of the staff. So the decision was made to close the hotels to avoid paying staff salaries. Many hotel owners have lost hope of seeing any recovery to their businesses this year.
The only other industry of Darjeeling is the Tea industry. Darjeeling Tea is popular throughout the world because of its unique taste. After the tea industry, tourism is the main employment generator for the local people.
After several meetings with the employees, hotel owners, the police, and district administration, the ‘Hotel Owners Association’ decided to NOT close the hotels anymore. The employees will be paid as per the decision made by all the parties in the meeting. The district administration and the tourism officials are working towards a solution where the domestic tourism opportunities can be created to generate revenue.
Rajasthan and Kerala are the states that are doing promotional campaigns to restart tourism in their popular cities. They have prepared themselves to balance health & safety with business opportunities. There is a lot to learn from these two states in managing crisis without sacrificing the livelihoods of people. In the coming months, we can expect some movement of tourists towards Darjeeling.
The following news report from ‘India Today’ reports about the decision to close the hotels that was made last week. The decision has now been revoked.