Guwahati: While the crisis in Darjeeling has led to a total shutdown of the tourism industry in North Bengal, it has not dithered tourists from going to the hills. Since the outbreak of the unrest, many visitors decided to drive 110 km north of Darjeeling to neighbouring Sikkim
"We had to change our plan because of the unrest. We are now planning to visit Lachung and other areas of Sikkim," said a Delhi-based Rajiv Agarwal, who was stuck in Darjeeling last week.
Another tourist, Kolkat-based Sarmat Dey, said that he decided to visit Gangtok once travel agents assured him that the Darjeeling unrest hasn't spilled over to the hilly state.
"We reached Darjeeling to know that there is a bandh for Gorkhaland. Agents in Sikkim assured us that there is no unrest in Gangtok, so we came here," Mr Dey said.
The unrest in Darjeeling comes at a time when the hills usually witness a good tourism season. As a result, Gangtok is witnessing a huge inflow of unscheduled visitors leading to an increased demand in tourist properties.
"Even home stays on the outskirt of Gangtok arein high demand," said Siliguri-based tour operator Somraj Gahatraj.
The Sikkim government, however, could face the challenge of providing these tourists a safe passage to the nearest railway junction and airport in West Bengal's Siliguri.
"Due to the turmoil in Darjeeling, tourist football has gone up. People who had planned for Darjeeling and Kalimpong are now coming to Sikkim," said Sikkim's tourism secretary C Zangpo.