Iconic tea producers in Darjeeling are turning their heritage bungalows into tourist retreats with amenities like spa, wellness centre, yoga and teat testing due to the rising costs concerning output, erratic weather conditions and a dip in price recovery. The renowned plantation experts like Goodricke, Ambootia, Jungpana and Orange Valley are in the final stages of their plans to take advantage of the tea tourism sector, while most of the existing players like Chamong and Goomtee are going for a significant expansion.
According to top producers’ body Darjeeling Tea Association (DTA), the trend would work well for the estates amid grave concerns over business viability. DTA chairman Binod Mohan said “More and more estates are embracing tea tourism in their hunt for new ways to earn revenue. It will give tourists an opportunity to experience colonial lifestyle in the lap of the Himalayas”, as reported by TOI.
Goodricke group has recently geared up to refurbish its heritage bungalows in Thurbo and Badamtam estates into resorts. “It is not necessary that the producers, themselves, have to turn hoteliers. Professional bodies will run ours. We will invest Rs 2 crore each,” said a company source.
Similarly, the other biggies of the tea plantation market have planned and thought over the various obstacles and challenges while also thinking about the scope for expansion
Top producers’ body Indian Tea Association (ITA), however, seeks some changes in the rules governing tea tourism in Bengal. ITA secretary S Patra said: “We want a change in the five-acre ceiling per estate for tourism. A single-window clearance and an entertainment tax holiday for five/six years for tourism projects are need of the hour.”
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