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Father Babu Joseph SDB completes his PhD on Travel & Tourism
By C.M. Paul
Kolkata, Aug. 20.  New Delhi - Head of the Department of History at Salesian College Sonada (SCS) Fr Babu Joseph successfully completed and defended his doctoral research on Travel and Tourism on the hill station destination of Darjeeling, 19 August 2016. Father Babu Joseph stakes his claim ``to be the first priest to do a doctoral thesis in this mundane area of study.``
Father Babu Joseph defends his doctoral thesis in New Delhi.
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North Bengal University Siliguri under which SCS established in 1938 is an affiliate college does not have a Department for Travel & Tourism.

Over the years of research Father Babu Joseph has been pushing to offer regular 3-year BTM degree courses from Salesian College Sonada and Siliguri campus as part of its College with Potential for Excellence.

``Bengal elections in the spring semester delayed the process... now it may be sanctioned for the Pujas,`` hopes SCS Principal Dr George Thadathil.

Father Babu`s thesis under the supervision of Professor Syed Inayet Ali Zaidi is entitled : The Emergence of Darjeeling District in West Bengal as a Tourist Destination: A Perspective.

The thesis was submitted and successfully defended for the award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Tourism and Hospitality Services at Indira Gandhi National Open University School of Tourism and Hospitality Services Management (SOTHSM), New Delhi.

Says Father Babu Joseph, ``The proposed work is an attempt to take a look at the past, hoping to find some answers for the present maladies affecting the region while carving out a vision for the future that can chart the future expansion of Darjeeling as a world class tourist destination which will enchant the traveling millions.``

Father Babu quickly adds, ``A further clarification of the rationale behind the proposed work can be accomplished only by narrating the process of evolution of Darjeeling as a tourist destination.``

The British became masters of Darjeeling Hills as they acquired it from the Raja of Sikkim in 1835 and made a concerted effort to build it up as an attractive tourist destination.

The study population composed of three groups, comprising the tourists visiting the region throughout the year, the local population residing within the destination area, and the stakeholders in the tourism industry in the region.

The method of sampling followed in the study was probabilistic random sampling. The sample size, determined with the help of an online sample-size calculator, was found to be 600 tourist respondents, given the scale of tourists visiting the region through a year. In the case of local people residing within the destination area, a convenience sample-size of 300 respondents was selected for survey.

In the case of the tourism industry stakeholders, 16 hoteliers, 9 travel agencies, 2 tourist guides and 2 Tourism Department officials were contacted for interviews.  The tools used in the study included questionnaires, personal interviews and non-participant observation.

The research threw up startling findings that Darjeeling District as a tourist destination is experiencing both development and consolidation cycles in its evolution at present.

The local people appreciate the coming of tourist as it contributes to the local economy.

The private sector stakeholders of the tourism industry are of the opinion that Darjeeling district is popular among tourists, so good infrastructure and peaceful environment ensure further growth of the destination. The destination is having abundance of tourism resources, so optimum use of them will make the destination develop further.

The future vision of  Darjeeling as a Tourist destination provides a road map for further development. This is based on a shift from urban based mass tourism to rural based pro-poor, and a community based tourism with local participation which ensures that  the benefits of tourism are shared with the host population.


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