26 August 2008

Indian tea tourism brewing to perfection

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According to AFP, a growing number of people are visiting India to tour the famous Darjeeling region, and to experience life on its tea estates.

Many estates in the Darjeeling hills are now catering to the growing interest in Indian tea tourism by offering a range of experiences for visitors.  Tourists can share meals with their hosts, help pluck tea, tour factories, learn how cosmic energy is used in the farming technique, and even pay for specialised live-in training courses on the plantations.

Although tea tourism is only attracting a relatively small amount of revenue and visitors to the region, experts say the potential is huge. 

"It is a great promotional exercise for Darjeeling tea, as it is a unique experience that tea gardens can offer," says Sandeep Mukherjee, secretary of Darjeeling Tea Association.

In related news, the Agri Tourism Development Corporation (ATDC) has been running a pilot tourism program in Baramati over the past four years, and results show it has been enormously successful.

The program is intended to boost the farming industry by attracting tourists to the area, who are then encouraged to participate in farming activities, practice the everyday life as experienced by almost 75 per cent of Indians, and buy mementos from the local producers.  

"The project has brought new spots like Baramati on the tourist map. Almost 28,000 tourists have visited Baramati in the past four years, thanks to this initiative," said Director of ATDC Pandurang Taware.

International visitors to India must have an Indian visa to enter the country.  Indian tourist visas are usually valid for up to six months, and the visa holder is not allowed to work under the visa conditions.  For short-stay visits, tourists can also apply for a 15 day transit visa.

The Worldwide Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in India visa and immigration services.

Article by Jessica Bird, Worldwide Visa Bureau.

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