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Thursday, July 07, 2011

Lodges created to increase tourism

This by a staff reporter from The Telegraph

Tea bungalow-lodges beckon tourists

Jorhat, June 22: The Assam government-owned Assam Tea Corporation Limited, in a bid to increase its revenue, will convert at least eight bungalows in four tea estates into tourist lodges.

The ATCL has 15 gardens and most of these are in Upper Assam.

Disclosing this to The Telegraph, industry minister Pradyut Bordoloi said the ATCL has to diversify its business and converting these British-era bungalows into tourists lodges has the scope to earn more revenue for the company.

The eight bungalows have been identified at Cinnamara, Soycotta and Murmuria and Rungamatty tea estates. While the bungalow at Rungamatty is almost ready with renovation completed, work on the other seven bungalows will be carried out soon.

Bordoloi had visited the Rungamatty tea estate yesterday to oversee the ongoing renovation on the bungalow.

Although the ATCL had planned to take into tea tourism venture by converting tea gardens into resorts way back in 2005, things did not work out because of paucity of funds. In fact, a bungalow in Cinnamara tea estate, the first tea estate to have been owned by an Assamese, Maniram Dewan, was prepared for tourists but work stopped midway.

“The ATCL is limping back to its good old days and in another few years we expect the company to make profit again,” Bordoloi said.

He said several initiatives like re-plantation of tea bushes and modernisation of factories have been done in recent times. A senior ATCL official said most of these bungalows were lying unused for several years now and few of them were almost in ruins.

“The maintenance cost of these bungalows is huge and they remained unused after being vacated by the tea executives,” the official said.

He said tour operators would be contacted as soon as these bungalows were ready for tourists.

The official said there were plans to convert all the 15 tea estates of the company into resorts and the colonial-style bungalows into star-category resorts. “Many tourists from the different parts of the country and abroad have a fascination for tea gardens and we want to cash in on this. Spending few nights amid lush green tea estates will no doubt be a great experience for tourists.”

The official said the tourists would also get an opportunity to have a first-hand experience of the tea-making process. He said the bungalows would not only serve as tourist resorts but also to company executives and businessmen on official visits.

“With several big companies setting up branches in small towns like Jorhat, Nagaon and Golaghat, business executives keep travelling to these places. These bungalows will provide them an ideal location to spend a night far away from the hustle and bustle of the urban setting,” the ATCL official said.

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