Statesman news service
Darjeeling, 8 July
In a journey to the Hills, what would linger in the minds of a traveller long after they leave Darjeeling? A dramatic view of mist-laden mountains, the sweet flavour of choicest Darjeeling tea, the old world charm of local markets would be indelibly etched in the minds of first time visitors to the Queen of the Hills.
Darjeeling remains one of  the ‘top picks for India’ in the travel website of Lonely Planet. This year it received the Outlook Traveller award for the favourite summer destination. The tourism department of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) now looks to promote responsible tourism here. In the first phase, to make the sector experience responsible tourism, training will be initiated by the GTA for the tour operators, drivers and the guides sensitised to cater to the needs of tourists.
"The tour operators, drivers and the guides are the first to communicate with the tourists. It has become of utmost important for them to learn responsible tourism with equipped knowledge. Another phase of training will be made available for home stays of the Hills,” said Mr Sonam Bhutia, secretary to the tourism department, GTA. The Block Development officers and the GTA Sabha members have been asked to identify the home stays fit for the training, he said adding that, “Neatness, cleanliness and willingness are the necessary factors for the home stays  for which the registration is underway.”  With wide exposure, the GTA is in a process to build a tourism website where the details of the home stays, hotels and famous tourist sites of Darjeeling will be listed for visitors. It is learnt that according to tourist prefences they can search for hotels or home stays available and book the rooms, through the tourism website of GTA.
No doubt Darjeeling during the month of April-June was choc-o-bloc with tourists. 2012 had witnessed a record number of tourists.
“Notwithstanding the pre monsoon here, the first season that ended recently was remarkable,” said hotelier Mr Suraj Sharma.