After being shut down for almost six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Darjeeling and Kalimpong in West Bengal have opened their doors to tourists.
On September 5, the West Bengal Government allowed hotels in Darjeeling and Kalimpong to resume their services in accordance with social distancing norms. However, those within containment zones would have to remain closed.
Sangey Tshering Bhutia, President of Darjeeling Hotel Owners’ Association, said, “Now that the hotels have opened up we are optimistic that tourists would start arriving and the tourism industry would roll back to normal in a phased manner. We are expecting tourists soon.”
Hoteliers said that they have drawn up plans on how to sanitise hotels and maintain hygiene when tourists start flocking in.
“Once a guest checks out of the room it would be sanitized and would be kept vacant for at least three days before allotting to another guest. There would be no buffet system, body temperature of guests would be checked when they check in and all hotel staff would be wearing masks and gloves. The entire hotel would be sanitized regularly,” said Diamond Oberoi, Managing Director of a prominent hotel.
Public transport connecting New Jalpaiguri and Siliguri with the hills stations of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and other places have already started.
“As many tourists prefer to take shared jeeps and buses to the hills from Siliguri bus stand and NJP railway station the drivers would maintain social distance among the tourists while ferrying them to their destination. They would be taking only half the passengers they used to take during pre-COVID times,” shared S N Pradhan, president of Himalayan Transport Coordination Committee
So far around seven long distance trains are running via New Jalpaiguri railway station including Agartala-Delhi Rajdhani Express, Brahmaputra Mail and Padatik Express.
Subhanan Chanda, Chief Public Relations Officer of North East Frontier Railway said that more trains are expected to ply from September 12.
Source: Hindustan Times