REZA PRADHAN – www.telegraphindia.com Kalimpong, May 31: The tourist season in the hill town seems to be booming this time with most hotels booked till the middle of June. With Darjeeling and Sikkim grabbing huge pieces of the tourism pie, travel operators and hotel owners are heartened to see tourists flocking not only to favourite destinations like Lava and Loleygaon — around 32 and 52 km from here — but staying in the town as well. “All the DGHC lodges in the subdivision are packed to capacity till the middle of June. Moreover, the good thing this year is that tourists seem to be opting for less visited places like Rellie, where we have the Gorkha hut. Unlike other years, tourists this time are also preferring to stay in the town,” said Bimal Gazmer, the Kalimpong area manager of DGHC tourism. According to Gazmer, the department had to turn away many tourists, as there were no more rooms. “I feel that this rise in the number of tourists can be attributed to the new tourist spots that have come up around the town. I also feel that Kalimpong has been better promoted this time,” said Gazmer. Speaking on the same lines, the Hotels’ and Restaurants’ Association of Kalimpong president Amod Yonzon said: “This time we have witnessed a change in the flow of tourists with a new crowd turning up here. Usually we have tourists from Bengal, but this time, we have had tourists from south India as well. I feel this is mainly due to the promotion done by the tour operators of Kalimpong.” He added that he expected the rush to continue till the end of June. Hand in hand with tourism, adventure sports seems to have picked up too. “Our rafts are doing three trips a day. Usually, it is only one trip each day. Private rafting agencies are also doing well. As many as 20 rafts can be seen floating down the Teesta at any point of time,” said Gazmer. Other areas under the West Bengal Forest Development Corporation like Samsing and Salibas also seems to be doing well this time. “Compared to last year, the flow of tourists in our lodges seems to have increased. We have earned more than Rs 10 lakh since April. This figure is more that 25 per cent of what we earned last year from our lodges. We have no vacancy in any of our lodges till the middle of June,” said N. Muruli, the divisional manager of the state forest body.