By Anindita Acharya
Finally, the dreadful year — 2020 —left us, but unfortunately,India has crossed one crore Covid-19 cases and we are yet to have any confirmation on the arrival of vaccine.
However, the government said that the vaccination drive will start soon in the country once the emergency use of the vaccine candidate is given approval. A number of vaccine candidates are in the third phase trial in the country. But till the vaccine arrives, we have somehow learnt to live in the ‘new normal’ with social distancing, sanitizers and masks.
With social distancing and self-isolation, the entire year travel plans have been affected due to the novel coronavirus. In fact, 2020 is considered as the ominous year, which completely paralyzed the travel industry. While international travel is still being considered a risk and people are afraid to fly interstate, most travellers post lockdown have resorted to short trips or weekend destinations especially with work from home increasing manifold in these troubled times to satiate the travel-thirsty souls. So, in West Bengal, most of the travellers are making whirlwind tours to Jhargram, Darjeeling, Bishnupur, Sundarbans, Garpanchakot, Shantiniketan, Mandarmoni, Kurseong, Lepchajagat and Dooars to name a few.
Debjit Dutta, Director and CEO, Impression Tourism Services (India) and Chapter Chairman, Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) informed, “Driving to the nearby destinations has increased post coronavirus lockdown and this trend has had positive impact in the travel industry. The main reason of travelling to nearby destinations is to avoid public transport, hence, most of the tourists are driving in their personal vehicles to those places.”
According to Dutta, Sundarbans, Rajbaris, tea garden bungalows, Mandarmoni, Darjeeling and homestay destinations like Takdah, Icchey Gaon, Tinchuley and others are drawing huge number of tourists from Bengal.
“The local travel market was never given much importance. But now, tour operators of Bengal are digging up new places to attract travellers. This would eventually help the Bengal tourism market,” said Dutta. He also added that tourists have become responsible, too, post Covid-19.
Saugata Mukherjee, AGM Sales, Mayfair, Hotels and Resorts, mentioned, “Darjeeling and Kalimpong are the favourites among the holiday-deprived tourists in Covid-19 situation. Hotels and resorts are following Covid-19 protocols including thermal scanning, sanitization, social distancing to maintain the safety of the tourists.”
“We providesanitizer, gloves in the room and also sanitize the total property at regular interval. Furthermore, we try to avoid buffet services to maintain social distancing rather prefer providing food at a designated place in a limited pre-plated manner,” added Mukherjee. Meanwhile, Dutta said that staycations have also increased during Covid-19 due to boredom. Since people are tired of living within the four walls of their home, now and then they prefer to spend some time away from their mundane home ambience and book a hotel or a luxury resort in the same city. “Luxury holidays have become pocket-friendly due to Covid-19. So, the short road trips and weekend destinations near Kolkata are all sold out,” he further asserted.