SIKKIM TOURISM: Sikkim best tour teacher – policy pat from northeast – rightly thinking big for the benefit of all and sundry, now only to get the Gorkha Adivasi state in line quick ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Gangtok, Aug. 26: Sikkim with its master tourism policy has a lot to offer to the Northeast where connectivity is the biggest impediment to smooth travel, leader of Opposition in the Meghalaya Assembly Conrad Sangma said here today.
“Sikkim has a lot to offer as the state is the pioneer in tourism. We have to learn from Sikkim,” said Sangma during the inaugural session of the two-day regional consultation on responsible tourism in the Northeast.
Tourism stakeholders from all the seven northeastern states and Sikkim are participating in the seminar organised by the Shillong-based Impulse NGO Network, in collaboration with Sikkim University and the Bangalore-based research organisation Equations. The seminar is supported by the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking.
Later in an interaction with the media, Sangma admitted that Sikkim was more advanced in the tourism sector compared to Meghalaya or the other northeastern states. “Sikkim is more advanced in the sense that polices and plans had been formulated. In our case, initiatives had been there but our government had not focused on them much,” he said.
The NCP leader, who was the Meghalaya tourism minister in 2007-2008, said he was impressed by the Akant Vas and the Agyat Van Vas concepts being considered by the Sikkim government.
“The state is naturally gifted with all sorts of destinations and circuits required for tourism. Some of the impressive varieties of our tourism products are nature, trekking, eco-tourism, adventure, pilgrimage and Buddhist tourism and Akant Vas and Agyat Van Vas,” said Sikkim tourism minister Bhim Dhungel.
The concepts were floated by the government earlier this year with proposals to build Vedic-era-type huts in the forests where tourists can spend some time in solitude and meditation. However, the proposal is still in the conceptual stage. “I really like these concepts of the Sikkim government,” said Sangma.
He was also impressed by the cleanliness of Gangtok.
“Overall, tourism in Sikkim is very attractive. The participation of the community is so clear. I saw people involved in a drive to clean up Gangtok. It goes very well with tourism,” said Sangma. He said lack of connectivity remained the biggest hurdle in the Northeast.
“There are 22 airports in the region, of which 11 are defunct because of sloppy design and construction. A tourist will love to fly from Gangtok straight to Shillong or complete the entire northeastern itinerary in a week which is possible only through air links,” said Sangma. He said he supported the development of quality tourism instead of quantity in the region, especially in his state.
Impulse team leader Hasina Kharbhih said the consultation was meant to “create a platform for government officials, civil society organisations, media and people from the tourism industry to discuss the critical issues and their impacts on tourism in the Northeast within the framework of current policies and legislations”.