State Affairs

Viral hits Dooars tourism, hotel bookings dip by 50%

SHILIGURI

The Japanese Encephalitis outbreak that claimed over 200 lives in north Bengal this year has scared Puja tourists away from the Dooars so much so that hotel occupancy has fallen by almost 50 per cent.

Samrat Sanyal, the working president of the Eastern Himalaya Travel and Tour Operators’ Association, said: “In the Dooars, the occupancy is around 80 per cent during the Durga Puja holidays and that continues for around a month. It starts decreasing for another one-and-a-half months and again goes up before the winter holidays from mid-December.”

Dibyendu Deb, the secretary of Lataguri Resort Owners’ Association, said that unlike other years when the rate of occupancy is above 80 per cent starting from Durga Puja, “the average rate of occupancy this year is around 30 per cent”.

One operator said this could be the worst Puja tourism season in the Dooars in a decade.

Tour company managers and other industry stakeholders said most of the tourists who cancelled hotel bookings cited the viral outbreak as the reason to stay away, reports Telegraph.

“Although most Japanese Encephalitis deaths were reported from the blocks of Dhupguri and Mainaguri, which are not travellers’ haunts and which tourists don’t have to cross barring a village or two, those who had planned to spend the Puja in the Dooars have cancelled their bookings citing the outbreak,” Deb said today.

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