The statehood agitation conducted by the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) is hampering the tourism industry in Darjeeling, and hence, its economy. Almost 90 percent of domestic and international tourists have stopped coming to ‘queen of hills’ Darjeeling due to the ongoing agitation. Local vendors are also suffering due to which the economy in the region is getting badly affected. “Yes, the business has been affected due to the ongoing stir. There are hardly any tourists left,” a shopkeeper told ANI. “Everything is closed out here. It’s not ideal for tourists, but we understand the sentiment of the people,” a tourist said. On the other hand, a local hotelier said, “We are in trouble as tourists are leaving Darjeeling. The government should focus on the crisis to restore peace in the hills.”The two most significant contributors to Darjeeling’s economy are tourism and the tea industry. Darjeeling became an important tourist destination as early as 1860. It is reported to be the only location in eastern India that witnesses a large influx of foreign tourists. It is also a popular filming destination for Bollywood and Bengali cinema. Tourist inflows into Darjeeling have of late been affected by the political instability in the region.
Presently, between 50,000 foreign and 500,000 domestic tourists visit Darjeeling annually if the situation is normal. It is known as the ‘Queen of the Hills’ and in 2015 was the third most googled travel destination in India.