Tour Operators to move HC for Emergency Services Tag

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DARJEELING: Tour operators from North Bengal, Sikkim and the northeastern states have decided to move high courts of respective states to keep tourism out of the purview of strikes and will submit a plea to the chief ministers demanding emergency services tag for the sector. The decision was taken in a tourism convention held in Siliguri on May 8. under the banner of Bandh Free Tourism - Tourism for Peace and Harmony.
"The process for filing the appeal before the high courts has already been started. We will move the high courts at the respective state level for keeping tourism out of the purview of any bandhs," said Raj Basu, chairman of Eastern Himalayan Travel and Tour Operators. The association plans to involve tour operators from the Northeast where the problem of bandhs is manifold. "We will file our petition by next week," Basu added.

In North Bengal, tour operators had to bear the brunt of the four-year agitation by pro- and anti-separate statehood agitators. In fact, the region is also facing an agitation at present with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and a faction of ABAVP protesting against the ban on public rallies and meetings. "We lose at least Rs 12 to Rs 18 crore in a single day when a bandh is enforced. This does not auger well for the region as it depends on tourism industry.

More than 3.5 lakh people of North Bengal and Sikkim get affected by bandhs," Basu said. The association will also organize a 'Great March' in North Bengal and northeast regions and the stakeholders will address a letter to the chief ministers of respective states and request them to declare tourism as an emergency service. During the convention, attended by 120 tour operators, an eight-point resolution was also adopted, including introduction of a transparent insurance policy and extending the repayment period of tourism purpose bank loans in case of strikes.

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