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8 Kalimpong suburbs in the global race for ‘Best Tourist Village’ title

20 June, 2023 19:29:55
8 Kalimpong suburbs in the global race for ‘Best Tourist Village’ title

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) launched the ‘Best Tourism Villages’ Award in 2021 to make tourism a driver of rural development and well-being. This is part of a global initiative to highlight those villages where tourism preserves cultures and traditions, celebrates diversity, provides opportunities, and safeguards biodiversity. This year, a cluster of eight towns of Kalimpong district in West Bengal has been nominated for the annual ‘Best Tourism Villages’ category award.


Situated at an altitude of 1300 metres on the eastern part of the Darjeeling Himalayas, Kalimpong district was formed on 14 February 2017 and was recognized as the 21st district of West Bengal. The Kalimpong administration has hand-picked a cluster of eight hamlets to showcase as 'model villages' and participate in the global event. 


In India, applications from the district level of a particular state have to be delivered to the UNWTO office through the Central government. The villages are selected based on certain parameters that include issues such as tourism development in the villages, financial status, development of infrastructure, transport system, gender equality, women's growth and development, employment opportunities, digitization development, etc. The plastic-free zone was one of the major criteria for selection in the ‘model village’ category. The names of the selected villages included in this year's list were announced at a World Tourism Organization (WTO) event in Saudi Arabia in February.

Once the names were finalized, Kalimpong administration, the state’s new district, hand-picked eight hamlets as ‘model villages.’ Preparations are in full swing for the event. The winners will be declared formally in a function to be held next year. If the villages clinch the title, further developmental activities in the villages will be supported by global outreach and receive financial support from the United Nations to promote rural tourism. The ‘model villages’ selected by the Kalimpong district administration include Panbudara and Chuikhim in Block No. 1, Nokdara and Ichhagaon in Lava Block, Rishop and Mulkhagra in Pedong Block and Sundarbasti and Parentar in Garubathan Block.

Kalimpong District Magistrate, Ms. R Vimala recently held a meeting with district administrative officers and BDOs to take necessary measures for the development of rural tourism. Enumerating on the initiative, senior officials of the state administration said, since the title is conferred on villages that excel in rural tourism, the yardstick for selection of ‘model villages’ is based on the concentrated efforts being made to preserve the social, cultural and environmental aspects of the area. Emphasis is also given to eco-tourism along with the undertaking of various developmental projects for the overall growth and prosperity of the locality. The UNWTO is recognizing those villages that fulfill these criteria. 


Opportunities galore for the villages which are in the race for the ‘Best Tourism Village’ title. Even though participant villages that compete in the global event but fail to win the coveted title, get a chance to spruce up their act with the help of expert advice, and help in developing tourism through joint public and private efforts and gear up to be worthy of the title in the future. In 2021, Pochampalli village in Telangana was named one of the Best Tourism Villages in India by the United Nations World Tourism Organization.


In 2022, Khonoma, a Western Angami Naga village located about 20 km west of Kohima received the prestigious title. Khonoma is known for its initiatives to conserve the flora and fauna of the region and for wildlife conservation. It is also Asia’s first green village. This time, a cluster of eight villages in Kalimpong district has been finalized for participating in the fray. 

Lepcha Museum

Recently, all district collectors across the state were briefed by the top brass of state administration to take necessary measures for the development of rural tourism. Along with the picturesque landscapes of North Bengal amid rolling tea gardens surrounded by beautiful green hills, emphasis has also been laid on developing rural tourism in areas adjoining Kolkata. It has been decided to build model villages like Rajasthan and Gujarat tourism along the national highway. These model villages will showcase the food, culture, and handicrafts of the specific region. The process is underway across the country to promote rural tourism and the state is also taking long strides and participating in the initiative in a major way. 

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