Thursday, October 04, 2007

Higher room tariff awaits tourists in Sikkim & Surrounding areas

Gangtok,October4: Tourists and visitors to the region must get ready to shell out more on accommodation.
Most upmarket hotels in Siliguri and the hills have hiked their room tariffs by anything between 10 to 30 per cent, the highest in recent times. Though hoteliers insist that the hike is in keeping with rising costs, they also know they can bank on a huge demand for accommodation in these places.
“The demand is getting stronger, which is why we can now afford to increase the rates,” said Vived Baid, the managing director of The Cindrella Hotel in Siliguri. Baid called the hike “long overdue”, but added: “We have increased our rates by only 10 per cent.”
A double deluxe room at Cindrella, for example, will now cost Rs 3,500 plus taxes instead of Rs 3,200.
Vikash Kothari, the managing director of Sinclairs Group, said it’s been six years since they last increased their room tariffs. “Except for suites, in which case the hike is about Rs 1,000, our guests will have to pay only Rs 100-Rs 200 per room more at all our properties in Siliguri, Darjeeling and Chalsa (in the Dooars),” he added.
Kothari said it was difficult to raise rates in Siliguri where “business depends solely on the corporate clientele”. “Siliguri being a Category C city, the entitlement for visiting officials is very low here compared to the metros.”
The story is different in the hills though. New Elgin in Darjeeling has hiked its rate by 30 per cent, its double rooms now costing Rs 5,500 instead of Rs 4,400. “Increasing costs forced us to raise our room tariffs,” said manager Badal Biswas, adding that the rates were flat for the past three years. Elgin Group has increased tariff in two other properties—Silver Oaks in Kalimpong and Norkhill in Gangtok—by similar margins. Other hotels like Mayfair and Cedar Inn in Darjeeling have followed suit.
Tour operators are divided in their reaction to the increase. While Raj Basu, a Siliguri-based tour operator, called it “justified”, P.Lachungpa of Gangtok disagreed.
“Gangtok is getting costlier because of the hotels. In the long run we will lose out to other cheaper destinations if this goes on,” Lachungpa said.