Bandh effect: GTA to organise festival to promote tourism in Darjeeling
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Bandh effect: GTA to organise festival to promote tourism in Darjeeling

GTA is trying to use the office of chief minister Mamata Banerjee to invite Bollywood superstars to add sheen to the festival.

kolkata Updated: Dec 09, 2017 14:43 IST
Pramod Giri
Pramod Giri
Hindustan Times
File photo of tourists enjoying snowfall in north Bengal hills. The hill stations of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong have been popular as tourist destinations for generations.(HT Photo)

Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), the semi autonomous body running the affairs of north Bengal hills, has planned a five-day-long tourism festival to attract tourists to Darjeeling that is still reeling under the impact of the 104-day bandh.

Though the indefinite shutdown stretched from June 15 to September 26, in reality life was crippled for more than four months with tourism, the mainstay of the economy of the hills, taking a bad hit.

Read: GJM ends 104-day strike: All about Darjeeling crisis, Gorkhaland demand

With peace and normalcy slowly returning, the GTA board of administrators is banking on the support of chief minister Mamata Banerjee to rope in Bollywood superstars to add sheen to the festival. Though none from GTA would comment, Shah Rukh Khan may be persuaded to be present at the festival.

“Teesta Ranjit Tourism Festival is aimed at sending the message across the world that normalcy and peace returned to Darjeeling,” said Binay Tamang, chairman of GTA board of administrators.

The festival will begin on December 27 and conclude on December 31. Cultural extravaganza, folk dances on board Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, rock climbing, beauty contests, white water rafting, angling, tourists talent hunts, flower show, paragliding, mountain biking, half marathon, and kite-flying would be the main attractions.

Read: Darjeeling tea gardens reel under bandh effect, workers migrate in search of livelihood

Darjeeling attracted a large number of tourists in 2016 with all its 390 hotels fully booked weeks in advance. But the hills plunged into political turmoil from June 8, when Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) started an agitation against the state government. Quickly it turned into a full scale agitation for statehood.

All sectors of the north Bengal economy were affected during the struggle. Production in the 87 tea gardens that produce some of the world’s finest teas came to a halt. According to estimates, the gardens lost more than 30% of the crop valued at Rs 400-500 crore.

Mamata Banerjee is likely to inaugurate the festival in Darjeeling just a day before the first ever investor meet will be organised in the hill town on December 28.

The festival will be held in parts in Darjeeling, Kurseong, Kalimpong and Mirik.

First Published: Dec 09, 2017 14:43 IST