The world-famous hill stations of West Bengal, Darjeeling and Kalimpong have opened up for tourists after a hiatus of around six months because of the Coronavirus pandemic. Back on 5th September, the government of West Bengal had granted permission to the hotels of Kalimpong and Darjeeling to reopen their gates for the public following the norms of hygiene and social distancing.
The president of Darjeeling Hotel Owners’ Association, Sangey Tshering has said in a statement that the reopening of the hotels is expected to motivate tourists to visit the destination, which will, in turn, help in gradually rolling back the tourism sector to its normal condition.
Tourism is considered to be one of the most important revenue generators for Darjeeling and Kalimpong with more than 15 per cent of their population deriving their livelihood from it. According to the tourism records, the regions get over 10 lakh national and international tourists every year. However, the places had to suffer a complete lockdown this year for a long time due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Both Darjeeling and Kalimpong now have low COVID-19 positive cases. At present, Kalimpong district has the 2nd lowest COVID-19 positive cases in West Bengal, with the first being Jhargram.
Almost all the popular hotels have assured that they will maintain strict hygiene and sanitize their buildings thoroughly according to proper plans when they start receiving guests.
As stated by the MD of a renowned hotel, Diamond Oberoi, once a patron checks out, the room allotted to them would be thoroughly sanitized and left vacant for 3 days before it is allotted to another tourist. Furthermore, the guests will undergo temperature screening at the entry point of the hotel and the staff will wear gloves and masks compulsorily. No buffet system will be arranged for the guests in the hotel as of now in order to avoid social gathering.
Public transportation services connecting Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri with Kalimpong and Darjeeling have already resumed.