TOURISM: Taipei boost for hill train tourism – brochures, video on dhr at meet

TOURISM: Taipei boost for hill train tourism – brochures, video on dhr at meet – more tourists on an infrastructure that has been totally destroyed by the Bengal administration ?!!

A poster to be displayed at the exhibition in Taipei. (Courtesy: India-Taipei Association)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY AVIJIT SINHA

Siliguri, June 8: People of Taiwan will get to know more about the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway which will find a place at an exhibition to be held in Taipei from tomorrow.

Besides the DHR, three other Unesco world heritage properties in India — the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, the Kalka-Shimla Railway and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus of Mumbai — will also feature at the five-day gala, organised to mark the 123rd anniversary of the Taiwan Railway Administration.

The gala will be organised in collaboration with the India-Taipei Association, which hopes the event will lure more tourists to the DHR. The visitors to the exhibition will be provided with brochures on the DHR in Chinese and will be shown video clippings of toy trains criss-crossing the Darjeeling hills.

“This is the first time that these railway heritage sites would be displayed in Taiwan. Our effort is to inform the people of Taiwan about the rich railway heritage of India through audio-visual and print mediums…the exhibition would be held at the Main Taipei rail station that witnesses about four lakh footfalls everyday. During the event, pictures would be displayed and videos of the world railway heritage sites of India would be shown. Further, written information about these world heritage railway sites, written in Chinese, would be provided to the local population for better understanding,” Pradeep Kumar Rawat, the director general of the India-Taipei Association, said in reply to an email sent by The Telegraph.

Elysia Building, the DHR HQ in Kurseong - problem of shifting to Siliguri, maintenance engineering and railway employment recruitment totally ignored by Bengal ?!!

The organisers hope that the event will revive memories of collaboration between India and Taiwan in the field of railways. “Trains, known as Blue Trains in Taiwan, were manufactured at the Integral Coach Factory back in 1970s and 113 such trains were brought in Taiwan. We want to strengthen the mutual relationship by bringing forth the railway heritage and thus the old memories,” wrote Rawat.

The association said the Taiwanese preferred unique experiences and they could be attracted to the Indian heritage sites. “Exposure to Indian railway heritage sites and special trains like Mahaparinirvan Express, Maharaja Express and Palace on Wheels can help attract more Taiwanese tourists who often look for different and unique experience….postcards on Indian railway heritage sites have been designed and will be distributed among the visitors as souvenirs,” said Rawat.

Members of the DHR-India Support Group has appreciated the initiative. “Such publicity shows in other countries can help the DHR to a large extent and we can expect more and more tourists to avail of the toy train services,” said Vivek Baid, a member of the group.

The 88-km long DHR tracks were opened in 1881 and it was accorded world heritage status by the Unesco in 1999. (and thereafter purposely & grossly neglected by Bengal for parochial political gains ?!!)

Gorumara ban on diesel cars and plastic – plastic ban ‘Yes’, but diesel and private cars banned; absurd Bengal mafia idea – unheard of in the rest of India ?!!

Tourists enjoy a ride in Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary - Bengal's mafia move with an environmental banner ?!! (TT File photo)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Alipurduar, June 8: The forest department has decided to ban diesel-run vehicles and plastic bags inside Gorumara National Park.

Around 1,000 visitors on an average a day tour the park either in hired cars or their own vehicles.

According to foresters, petrol-driven cars will be introduced to ferry tourists when the national park reopens for visitors on September 16. The park will remain closed for monsoons from June 15 to September 15.

Plastic packets will also not be allowed inside the park after September 15 and tourists carrying them would be fined. Paper bags, made by eco-development committees, would be sold at the entrance to the park for visitors to carry their belongings.

The forest department had recently issued a notification, which said those interested in running petrol cars should submit a proposal to the foresters. It was also mentioned that members of the eco-development committees would get preference in this regard.

The new cars will be able to accommodate six persons.

According to foresters, after the petrol-run cars are introduced, the number of vehicles plying inside the park will be reduced. Private vehicles will not be allowed inside.

Few years ago, petrol-driven cars had been introduced in Jaldapara Wild Life Sanctuary.Each of the six cars, purchased by members of eco-development committees, run two trips daily and each tourist has to pay Rs 175. This model will now be followed in Gorumara.

Kamal Bhowmik, the secretary of Resort Owners’ Association in Lataguri, said running such cars might be helpful in controlling pollution in the area, but it has a flip side too.

“The divisional forest officer of wildlife II (Sumita Ghatak) held a meeting with us where she mentioned about the new cars. We have told them about the positive and negative sides of running them. At least 1,000 visitors come to Gorumara everyday. How many cars have to be bought then? When it is a matter of environment, then we have nothing to say. But some of the private car owners, who are running the vehicles in the park now, will lose their livelihood once the new cars are introduced,” he said.

MEANWHILE

Darjeeling hospitality industry hit by unrest – all due to Bengal’s earlier and continued parochial neglect for unjust political gain ?!!

Beautiful Darjeeling with Kanchanjunga backdrop - sans roads, water, electricity and a crumbling infrastructure; much to complain about ?!!

FROM BUSINESS REDIFF
BY SWATI GARG

Formation of the Gorkhaland Janmukti Morcha and the ensuing agitation for a separate Gorkhaland (wonder why ?!!) have had a debilitating effect on the local industry.

Worst-hit is the hospitality industry — the lifeline of the region — including tour package operators, the hotel business and other auxiliaries.

“About 70 per cent of our bookings from 24 May to 5 June were cancelled due to the strike. We have lost Rs 25,000-30,000 everyday because of that,” said Suren Lama, owner of Hotel Zodiac in Darjeeling.

The continuing strikes and violence have had cascading effects on small and budget hotels, as well as large upscale hotels.

The sentiment is echoed by travel agencies and tour package operators in Kolkata. “Every year during peak season a total of about 40-55 families visit the area in tours we arrange.

“This totals about 350-400 people. This year we have received no bookings at all until now, and there seem to be little or no prospects of the season seeing an improvement,” said Devender Parekh, owner of India Travel Pro.

Interestingly, though, it is not the larger tour operators who face the brunt of the problem.

“People who want to go on vacation will go anyway, if not to Darjeeling then to Mussoorie. It is always the hospitality businesses based in the physical boundaries of the area that face maximum impact,” Parekh said.

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