Tourism in Trouble Amid COVID-19 Crisis in West Bengal

Gautam Kumar Das

Tourism in Bengal is troubled with a thousand problems. The tour operators are in a troubled look as there is trouble in tourism in almost all the tourism spots of West Bengal. A few tourists turn to visit Digha now, though it’s all about 15-20 visitors a day. Perhaps tourists are enjoying comparatively a quiet sea face at Digha lacking crowd, whereas, turns of tourists at Dooars, hill stations and other heritage spots in West Bengal is almost nil during this lock down period due to corona viruses’ outbreak. Almost all hotels are open at Digha - a local added, though people cannot trust on staying there or taking food in the restaurant attached to them fearing from the infection of the corona viruses. As the corona virus-infected people are sometimes asymptomatic, the tourists have still doubt in receiving services provided by the employees of the hotels and restaurant. These are said to be the valid reasons for which the turns of the tourists is almost nowhere including all tourist spots of West Bengal. Amid this crisis, young people around the world are starting to reimagine the world they want to see after COVID-19. If tourism is vitally important to the state’s economy, accounting for country’s GDP, nowhere is it more crucial than in the coastal Digha, or Dooars, or the hill stations, where it represents over 15% of the region’s economic output. Normally August would see the beaches and jungles of Digha and Dooars and other places in West Bengal respectively busy with the nature-lover tourists, who made up the bulk of approximately more than 80 million visitors (71.6 million visitors in 2015 as recorded by the tourism sector of the West Bengal government) the region received in 2019. What to do with the tourism in the present day West Bengal - planners of the tourism sector have to chalk out with the pilot programme, so as the visitors have been able to see that holidays are possible with the safety, such as people must wear face masks, there will be hydroalcoholic gel when tourists enter the hotel or restaurant, and in the bathroom the taps are to be electric so the tourists do not have to touch them. Further, what happens after COVID-19 pandemic particularly in the tourist places, the tranquil peace and quietness must be wonderful. Temperature checks and extra measures in the local hotels in Digha or Dooars are to be taken keeping in mind that whoever wants to go on holiday to the tourist’s spots as to help ensure there’s no new outbreak. On the month of August, with normal monsoon for this year, tourist spots like Digha or Dooars is set to remain considerably more sedate than other years. The tourism officials must keep in mind that the COVID-19 effect will accelerate the existing tendency towards less nightlife and more daytime experiences. There will be strict rules limiting opening time and conditions in night walk in the sea beach or movement in the jungles. There won’t be kind of mass tourism in the tourist spots. The officials must not tolerate that kind of tourists, who can be a risk for themselves and others. In this crisis situation, the tourism sector of the government should be well aware of taking opportunity by the hotel owners who create employment that is largely low-paid and seasonal in nature.

West Bengal is the only state in the Country to have the Himalayan mountain range in the north and the Bay of Bengal in the south. The state reflects the rich cultural heritage and traditional legacy through important destinations in the temperate plains and plateaus covering the state. The key tourist destinations in West Bengal have been identified under six primary tourist circuits.

Key tourists’ destinations in West Bengal

Tourism Sector

Key Tourist Destinations

Hill Station






Darjeeling, Kurseong, Kalimpong, Lava, Lolegaon, Mirik, Sandakphu etc
Dooars, Jaldapara, Gorumara, Sunderbans etc
Bishnupur, Murshidabad, Purulia, Malda, Birbhum, Hooghly, Burdwan, Paschim Medinipur, Cooch Behar etc
Digha, Shankarpur, Mandarmoni, Tajpur, Bakkhali, Gangasagar etc
Gangasagar, Belur Math, Dakshineswar, Kalighat, Tarapith, Nadia, Bolla Kali Temple, Nakhoda Masjid, Furfura Sharif, Imambara, St Paul’s Cathedral, St James’ Church etc
Shantiniketan, Kolkata etc

Source: Tourism Department, Government of West Bengal

Tourism benefits tour operators, agencies, hotels and restaurants, and also for a class of people who arrange home stay. It is benefiting the working class and small businesses, though mass tourism is driving towards unsustainability and an environmental and even social collapse during the pandemic due to COVID-19. Still it is to be said in the present situation for tourism operations in West Bengal that one today is worth two tomorrows.

Jul 12, 2020

 Gautam Kumar Das

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