Pakyong airport to soar Sikkim tourism

C. Zangpo, Secretary, Tourism and Civil Aviation Department, Government of Sikkim, shares why the upcoming airport at Pakyong and sustainable approach towards tourism is helping the state grow.

NISHA VERMA

Sikkim has emerged as the most popular tourist destination in the North East, owing to its cleanliness and variety of tourism activities and sightseeing options. C. Zangpo, Secretary, Tourism and Civil Aviation Department, lauded the government for development in the state. “Growth of tourism depends on leadership in the state. In Sikkim, the current government has been in power since the last 23 years and we are very stable. We stand for the development of sustainable and inclusive tourism development in the state. We are advocating adventure and ecotourism in the state, and creating an Environmental Development Committee (EDC) as well as Joint Forest Management Committee (JFMC) to look into the environmental concerns,” he said.

Observing that the state has a strong religious tourism potential, Zangpo said, “On the religious tourism front, Sikkim has many monasteries because it used to be a Buddhist kingdom in the past. We have more than 200 Buddhist monasteries in Sikkim and it is the only state where we have five sects of Buddhism. Apart from that, we have representation of 4 Dhaam and 12 Jyotirlinga in Namchi, 78 kms from Gangtok. For Buddhists, Lord Buddha’s Chenrezig statue is also coming up.”

We are going to have a sky walk coming up in Bhaleydhungha, which is being done by a world-renowned company. It will be a challenging ropeway and by 2019, we should be able to complete the project.

Zangpo stressed that in the past decade growth has been continuous, however, the current financial year hasn’t been smooth. “If you look at the arrival figures from January to June, we have received 11.7 lakh tourists, but post June 18, 2017 there was a lull period because of Gorkhaland protests in Darjeeling, followed by the Doklam issue later. This led to apprehension in tourists’ minds, especially after an advisory was issued that it was not safe to travel to this part of the country. This was despite the fact that the problem was centred in Darjeeling and NH10 was kept open. Now, tourists are slowly coming back,” he said. In this year, Sikkim is planning a big project in Bhaleydhunga. “We are going to have a sky walk coming up in Bhaleydhungha, which is being done by a world-renowned company. It will be a challenging ropeway and by 2019, we should be able to complete the project. In fact, we have already completed around 40 per cent of work. We are focusing on adventure and we have tremendous trekking trails, which appeal to foreigner tourists as well,” Zangpo shared. Talking about their participation in International Tourism Mart 2017, held from December 5-7, he said that they had marketed adventure tourism and ecotourism in the state. “One can go for leisure anywhere, but in Sikkim, one finds clean air and green environment everywhere. Hence, we feel that if you move along with nature, it’s going to sustain in the long run. We should soon be operating a greenfield airport at Pakyong, 30 km from Gangtok, which will be another advantage for Sikkim as far as the connectivity is concerned,” he concluded.

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