The violent unrest in Darjeeling has begun affecting neighbouring Gangtok, with hotels saying frequent agitations along the NH-10, which connects the Sikkim capital to Siliguri, have caused tourists to cancel their bookings.
“We do not have any problem in Gangtok, but there is a problem on the way to Gangtok. Tourists coming from Bagdogra airport or New Jalpaiguri railway station in West Bengal are finding it difficult to reach here because of strikes and protest on NH-10. Today, one of our guests was on their way to Bagdogra, and they were stuck on the way as their vehicle was attacked by protesters. It is a bit risky to come here or travel to West Bengal. We have started witnessing cancellation in our bookings,” said a spokesperson of ‘Gangtok – Delisso Abode, A Sterling Holidays Resort’.
Violent agitations by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) over the demand for a separate Gorkhaland had paralysed tourism in the Darjeeling hills. Tourists were forced to either cut their trip short or cancel bookings in Darjeeling and Kalimpong. Many private tour operators had to either reschedule or reroute upcoming bookings to the hill station.
With deaths being reported from Darjeeling following a clash between GJM activists and police, the inflow of tourists has decreased in Sikkim as well.
Rahul of Hotel New Orchid in Gangtok said: “The political unrest in Darjeeling has affected the hotel business here. It was okay till yesterday, but since morning, we are getting cancellations. It is pretty obvious that people are worried, and when you travel with your family, you always want to get away from any conflict. After yesterday’s incident in West Bengal hills, people are really worried. There are bandhs and protests on the highway, which are affecting our business a lot. There is no disturbance in Sikkim, but you have to come here via West Bengal, and there lies the problem.”
He said one of the hotel’s guests left at 3 am on Sunday night to avoid protests on the highway. “Another problem is that no car is ready to drive down to West Bengal because of these protests. These drivers face a lot of issues,” he added.
A spokesperson of the Central Hill Resort in Gangtok said: “Fearing unrest in the hills, a large number of tourists are not coming here. Some of them are cancelling their bookings. This is affecting our business. Even 2-3 days back, there was a heavy inflow of tourists to Gangtok. Some of them were cancelling their bookings in Darjeeling and coming to Gangtok. But the situation has changed now.”