The West Bengal government on July 1 lifted the partial ban on public transports and allowed buses, minibuses, taxis and auto-rickshaws to operate with 50% seating capacity. Private buses and minibuses comprise nearly 72% of the public transport in West Bengal. While some were unhappy with the government’s stand and demanded a hike in fare owing to shooting fuel prices, a few welcomed this decision. It has also brought some respite to the locals, who have been struggling to commute to their workplaces and market.
Even hoteliers in the south Bengal districts are happy with the government’s decision. According to them, since the Covid-19 cases have substantially reduced across the country, people are stepping out of their homes and if there is a lack of transport facility in a state, the tourism of that place gets affected.
The day the Trinamool Congress relaxed the curbs, around 40 private buses and more than 10 government-run buses started plying on the roads of the coastal town of Digha. These also include long-distance buses running between Kolkata and Digha and others.
Since the end of June, the tourists rush has been steadily increasing in the town and with the buses running, it is expected to rise further. Some hotel owners maintained that the bookings have started increasing. Members of the Digha Shankarpur Hoteliers Association expect the bookings to rise further by next week.
Besides the Covid cases, Cyclone Yaas had also severely impacted tourism in West Bengal. The two tourist destinations of Digha and Mandarmani were among the first hit areas. The repair work in many areas is undergoing. The state’s urban development department has been rebuilding other tourist destinations too. Around 35 crores have been allocated for the beautification, redevelopment and renovation of shops and stalls in Digha. The Digha Shankarpur Development Authority has planned to finish all the renovation work before the Durga Puja.