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Darjeeling to charge Tourist - Darjeeling, 19th October, 2011 - Tourists visiting the Darjeeling hills will soon have to pay a nominal “Tourist Tax” as the cash-strapped local administration tests the waters to generate revenue.
 
The district administration has decided to levy a tourist tax of INR 3 per person. A tourist car will have to pay INR 20 at the time of entry and a bus ferrying tourists will have to pay INR 50. Such levies do not exist now in the hills. The administration is hoping to implement the new measures by November 15.
 
Although the fee of INR 3 per tourist seems low, civic officials said such was the gravity of the funds crunch that any additional cash would come in handy. “As around 3 lakh tourists come to the hills every year, we expect to generate around INR 14 lakh through the taxes on tourists and their vehicles,” said Tamal Das, the chairman of the board of administrators of the Darjeeling municipality.
 
Sources said the idea was to get the tourist tax accepted in principle. “Later, we might think of raising it to generate more revenue,” an official said.Apart from the tourist tax, the Darjeeling municipality has also decided to introduce parking fees in various zones for the first time in the hills.
 
“The tourist tax, along with the parking fees, should help the Darjeeling municipality immensely,” said Das.
 
The tourists will “most probably” have to pay the tax near the Ghoom railway station. “We are looking at setting up a gate near the Ghoom railway station as that is the entry point to Darjeeling,” said Das.
 
The municipality officials will focus on taxis that are reserved by tourists while coming up to Darjeeling from places like Siliguri and Gangtok. “Since most of the tourists prefer to hire taxis rather than share space with local passengers in share taxis, collecting the tourist tax will not be a problem. Moreover, we do not think that the tourist will have much problem in paying INR 3 per individual,” Das said.
 
Saumitra Mohan, the district magistrate of Darjeeling, said the modalities were being worked out to introduce parking fees in all the three hill towns of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong. “We have scheduled a meeting with transport syndicates on 27th October, 2011. Traffic management is one thing we are seriously trying to address across the hills and we have already held meeting with the sub-divisional officers of Kalimpong and Kurseong,” Mohan said.
 
The Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council has floated a tender to build a multi-layer parking space along Lebong Cart Road. The cost of the project is estimated at INR 19 crore .......  Source Telegraph.
 

Posted on: 22 Oct, 2011

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